Biden taps Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary

Biden taps Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary

Janet Yellen was the first female chair of the Federal Reserve, and if confirmed by the Senate, would be the first female US Treasury secretary
Janet Yellen was the first female chair of the Federal Reserve, and if confirmed by the Senate, would be the first female US Treasury secretary

WASHINGTON - US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday formally tapped ex-Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to lead the Treasury, as he named officials to try to revitalize the world's largest economy.

The United States is struggling with a massive Covid-19 outbreak that's caused tens of millions of layoffs while sharply slowing annualized growth, and with cases surging again and Congress deadlocked over more aid.

If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen, 74, will be the first female Treasury head in its history, and likely be tasked with breaking the deadlock over aid in Washington, should lawmakers not come to an agreement before Biden's January inauguration.

"We face great challenges as a country right now. To recover, we must restore the American dream -- a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children," Yellen tweeted.

"As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all."

Other officials announced on Monday include veterans of former president Barack Obama's administration, several of which the Biden transition team noted would break racial barriers in their positions.

"As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever," Biden said in a statement.

- The task ahead -

Yellen's nomination was first reported last week, and Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris will formally unveil the nominees on Tuesday.

Biden's other nominations include Neera Tanden, president of liberal think tank Center for American Progress, as head the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, she would be its first South Asian head.

Nigerian-born Wally Adeyemo, a former deputy national security advisor and current president of the Obama Foundation non-profit, will serve as deputy Treasury secretary, the statement said. He would be the first African American in that role.

Also tapped was Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs Cecilia Rouse as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), the first African American in that post.

Jared Bernstein, who previously advised Biden when he was vice president under Obama, will join the CEA, as will Washington Center for Equitable Growth President Heather Boushey.

Yellen would take over as Treasury secretary from Steven Mnuchin, who worked with Congress on passing the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March that expanded unemployment payments and offered loans and grants to small businesses.

Those measures were seen as key in keeping the US from an even worse economic slowdown, but they expired over the summer and, despite talks with Mnuchin, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been unable to agree on how much more to spend, and what to spend it on.

The deadlock raised fears the country's tentative economic recovery could be reversed as the US struggles to quell Covid-19.

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