Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as Secretary of the Treasury

Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as Secretary of the Treasury
Janet Yellen in Wilmington, Del., on Dec. 1, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Janet Yellen as the nation’s 78th secretary of the Treasury.

The 84–15 Senate confirmation vote late Jan. 25 marks the first time a woman will take up the role. Yellen, 74, is also the oldest to hold the role in recent history.

Yellen is the third member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet to be confirmed. She was chairwoman of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018 under the Obama administration. Her term wasn’t renewed by President Donald Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told the floor before the vote that Yellen has bipartisan support and that she has a “breathtaking range of experience.”

As Treasury secretary, Yellen will play a key role in shaping and directing Biden’s economic policies.

The Finance Committee unanimously approved her nomination on Jan. 22 in a 26–0 vote. Republicans on the panel pledged to work with her, although they disagreed on a number of policies that the Biden administration is planning related to spending and increasing taxes.

Biden has promised to invest some $2 trillion in infrastructure, green energy projects, education, and research to boost American competitiveness. He has said he also plans to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent and increase taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year.

Yellen is expected to work with Congress on Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief proposal to address the impacts of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. At her confirmation hearing before the committee last week, she urged action on Biden’s proposal, saying that the nation may face a “longer, more painful recession” without a quick response.

The legislative proposal would give $1,400 in stimulus payments to individuals making below $75,000 annually, as well as provide expanded unemployment benefits, further aid for small businesses, and support for cities and states to prevent layoffs. The proposal also provides for vaccine production and distribution.

Biden in his proposal also called for a $15-per-hour federal minimum wage. Yellen last week said that job losses from boosting the federal minimum wage would be “very minimal." The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would wipe out a minimum of 1.3 million jobs.
The Treasury on Jan. 25 announced more new members of staff who will serve in key roles, bringing back some Obama administration veterans who previously served at the agency.