Yellen vote in US Senate committee a litmus test for support on Biden economic plan
WASHINGTON (US) – The Senate Finance Committee will vote on Friday on Janet Yellen’s nomination for Treasury secretary, will be an early test of bipartisan support for President Joe Biden’s ambitious plans regarding coronavirus relief, infrastructure investment and tax hikes.
Yellen, who would be the first woman to lead the Treasury after achieving the same feat in Federal Reserve chair from 2014 to 2018, is highly revered upon by both her fellow Democrats and by Republicans.
Friday’s vote on Yellen’s nomination may bring out the extent of Republican opposition to the Democratic president’s plans, for which he is looking forward to bipartisan support.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey, a longtime fiscal hawk, said at Yellen’s hearing: “We’re looking at another spending blowout.”
Yellen’s Republican predecessor, Steven Mnuchin’s position was not confirmed until three weeks after Trump’s inauguration.
The committee vote is planned for 10 am (1500 GMT) and Senate aides said it could lead to a full Senate confirmation vote later in the day on Friday.
Yellen faces both an evenly split committee and an equally divided full Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote if needed.
Yellen’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday threw light on some Republican lawmakers’ worries about her role in implementing Biden’s economic policies, which includes a bigger federal debt burden and repealing parts of their signature 2017 tax cuts.
Yellen told senators they needed to “act big” on the proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package or they would have to risk a longer recession and long-term economic setback, job and revenue losses.
In recent months, Treasury’s interest outlays have fallen from pre-pandemic levels due to lower rates.
In written answers to senators’ questions, Yellen said she would evaluate raising tax rates for “pass-through” small businesses, which includes sole proprietorships, implementing a new minimum corporate tax and raising capital gains taxes on the wealthy. She also promoted an effective carbon pricing system and financial regulation to tackle systemic risks from climate change.
With Yellen still awaiting an official confirmation, the Biden administration on Wednesday named Andy Baukol, a longtime career international finance official, as acting Treasury secretary. Deputy Treasury Secretary nominee Wally Adeyemo’s confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled.