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Joe Biden to choose Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary

Danielle Zoellner
·2-min read
President-elect Joe Biden will choose former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen as his Treasury secretary  (AP)
President-elect Joe Biden will choose former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen as his Treasury secretary (AP)

President-elect Joe Biden plans to announce former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen as his pick for Treasury secretary, the Wall Street Journal reports.

If confirmed by the Senate, Ms Yellen would become the first woman to ever to lead the Treasury Department.

Mr Biden said he would officially announce his pick for Treasury secretary this week, and that the person he’s selected “will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party … progressive to the moderate coalitions.”

This selection was an important one by the Biden administration, as the president-elect will inherit a struggling economy caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Treasury secretary will be responsible for leading the country out of the current economic decline through pandemic relief measure.

Ms Yellen, 74, holds a decades-long career in policy-making as a labour economist, and she became the first woman to hold the position as Chair to the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018. Prior to that position, she was the Vice Chair to the Federal Reserve from 2010 to 2014.

Stepping into the role of Treasury secretary would also make Ms Yellen the first person ever to head the Treasury Department, the central bank, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers – a position she held under President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 1999.

The pick from Mr Biden could be in an effort to sway both Republicans and Democrats to work with his Treasury secretary as the administration faces a battle to reignite the economy amid job loss and small business closures.

Initially, it was predicted Mr Biden might pick a more progressive Treasury secretary, such as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. But that hope among the progressive side of the Democratic Party was lost after the party was unable to gain a strong majority in the Senate.

Picking Ms Warren, for example, would put her Senate seat up for special election – a seat the Democrats cannot afford to lose. Also Ms Warren would likely face more difficulty getting nominated by the Senate compared to Ms Yellen.

The primary focus initially for Ms Yellen if she were to be confirmed by the Senate would be to get Congress to pass coronavirus stimulus relief. In a recent interview, Ms Yellen said it was economically necessary for Congress to respond to the growing unemployment numbers and decline of small businesses.

"There is a huge amount of suffering out there. The economy needs the spending,” Ms Yellen said on 28 September.

The Treasury secretary, who is fifth in line of presidential succession, handles a variety of tasks including debt management, task collection, and international sanctions.

Ms Yellen’s toughest challenge in the position will likely be finding bipartisan support among Democrats and Republicans to tackle economic issues.

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