Janet Yellen cleared her final hurdle on Monday in her historic path to becoming Secretary of the Treasury and received an overwhelming Senate endorsement of the key economic position.
The 84-15 votes made Yellen the first woman to head the department, an achievement she achieved as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.
After a largely heartfelt hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, which she unanimously approved, Yellen was considered almost certain to endorse. However, the vote has been postponed for a few days as the upper chamber is going through the first week of President Joe Biden’s tenure.
Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Urged his colleagues to approve a fifth government leadership affirmation for Yellen prior to the vote.
“Tonight the Senate has a particularly important economic verdict: reaffirm Janet Yellen a fifth time and know that she will work with each and every one of us to bring our workers, our small businesses, and all Americans back from the sea to the shining sea to bring economic foundation, “he said.
In her new position, Yellen will lead an agency charged with supporting Biden’s ambitious $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package. This comes just months after the federal government closed fiscal 2020 in a deficit of more than $ 3 trillion.
This lingering red ink, made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic and the many government spending that kept the economy going, has resulted in a national debt of nearly $ 28 trillion.
During her tenure at the Fed, Yellen was responsible for steering monetary policy, which helped keep funding costs in check, though she said this was never taken into account when the central bank set interest rates.
Yellen has earned a reputation as a consensus builder at the Fed. A useful tool is when it negotiates a divided Congress and a government that continues to have persistent policies with China.
One of the “no” votes, Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said he appreciated Yellen’s qualifications for the job, but was disappointed that when she spoke to him, she did not see a “robust all-the-over” supported energy sector. “
She said during her affirmation that China must continue to be held accountable for its actions on trade and human rights.
Yellen also received some attention when she spoke about the need to regulate cryptocurrencies at a time when bitcoin prices have skyrocketed.
“I think we need to look carefully at how they can encourage their use for legitimate activities while restricting their use for malicious and illegal activities. If this is confirmed, I intend to work closely with the Federal Reserve Board and the other federal banks and securities regulators how to implement an effective legal framework for this and other fintech innovations, “said Yellen.
Yellen succeeds Steven Mnuchin, who has held the Treasury for the past four years. Former President Donald Trump has decided not to reappoint Yellen to lead the Fed after her 2014-18 term.