Janet Yellen is one step closer to becoming Treasury secretary, with the Senate Finance Committee’s unanimously approving her nomination on Friday.
Her candidacy could come before the full Senate for confirmation as early as today.
After she is confirmed, Yellen’s first order of business will be to begin working with Congress to advance President Joe Biden’s plan for an additional $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
“I have very strong disagreements with Dr. Yellen on a number of her positions, particularly in the tax policy arena, but she has committed to us that she will work with us on these issues and the concerns that we have," said Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. "I think the strong vote on our side to support her today is an indication that we want to engage.”
The Treasury secretary plays a key role in shaping the administration’s stance on taxes, the economy and financial regulation, while also serving as an international diplomat with a hand in trade negotiations and sanctions policy.
But first, she must work with lawmakers to stem the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has caused widespread devastation,” she told the committee earlier this week at her nomination hearing. “Whole industries have paused their work. Eighteen million unemployment insurance claims are being paid every week. Food bank shelves are going empty. The damage has been sweeping, and as the President-elect said last Thursday, our response must be, too.”
She also suggested that the Biden administration will wait until the economy is stronger before pushing tax increases on wealthier Americans and corporations. Yellen said that after COVID-19 relief legislation is passed, the administration would move to raise taxes for other things, such as a plan to boost infrastructure spending.
If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman to be named treasury secretary. During the Obama administration, she became the first woman to be named chair of the Federal Reserve.