“Nobody deserves more credit than Chairman Yellen for the longest economic expansion in American history,” said Wyden, who is supposed to chair the Senate finance committee, which unanimously voted for her nomination on Friday.
The full Senate vote was 84 to 15, making Yellen the first woman to head the Treasury Department. She received support from most Republicans, including minority leader Mitch McConnell.
“I have very strong disagreements with Dr. Yellen over a number of her positions, particularly tax policy, but she has pledged that she will work with us on these questions and the concerns we have,” said Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said Friday after voting for them in committee, “I think the strong vote on our side to support them today is an indication that we want to get involved.”
The CFO exerts an expansive influence on the entire government, playing a key role in shaping the administration’s attitude towards taxes, the economy and financial regulation, while at the same time being an international diplomat in trade negotiations and sanctions policy.
However, the immediate focus will be on containing the economic pain of the pandemic that killed more than 400,000 Americans and forced businesses to close across the country.
“The pandemic has caused widespread devastation,” Yellen told the committee at her hearing. “Entire industries have stopped working. 18 million unemployment insurance claims are paid every week. The shelves of the food banks are going empty. The damage has been great, and as the President-elect said last Thursday, our answer must be too. ”
She suggested last week that the Biden administration wait for the economy to pick up before pushing tax hikes for wealthier Americans and businesses. Yellen said the government will try to levy taxes on other things, such as a plan to increase infrastructure spending that would come after the coronavirus relief legislation.
In the meantime, the government must set a course for dealing with China. President Donald Trump left office with more than $ 350 billion worth of Chinese goods tariffs still in place, as well as tariffs on steel and aluminum imports introduced by his national security agencies.
Yellen told senators that the Biden government would use all available instruments to counter unfair Chinese trade practices, but did not endorse Trump’s tariff tactics.
It is also under pressure from the left to focus on the links between the financial system and climate change. Yellen said she plans to set up a new “hub” for the Treasury Department to investigate the risks to the financial system from climate change and related tax incentives. It intends to appoint a “senior” official to lead the climate effort.
In written responses to the Senators released on Thursday, Yellen advocated the idea of a higher minimum wage, a position strongly supported by the left.
“The rise in the minimum wage will lift tens of millions of Americans out of poverty while increasing access to opportunities for countless small businesses across the country,” she wrote. “How it is implemented is important, and the President’s minimum wage will be introduced gradually over time, giving small businesses plenty of time to adapt.”