Yellen vote in U.S. Senate committee to test support for Biden economic
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[January 22, 2021]
By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Finance
Committee will vote on Friday on Janet Yellen's nomination for Treasury
secretary, an early litmus test of bipartisan support for President Joe
Biden's ambitious plans for coronavirus relief, infrastructure
investment and tax hikes.
Yellen, who would be the first woman to head Treasury after breaking
that same barrier as Federal Reserve chair from 2014 to 2018, is highly
regarded by both her fellow Democrats and by Republicans. The vote two
days after Biden became president is quick by recent standards.
Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan and has
pledged to invest https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-biden/biden-climate-plan-would-spend-2-trillion-in-bid-to-boost-economy-idUSKCN24F20
$2 trillion in infrastructure, green energy projects, education and
research to boost American competitiveness.
Friday's vote on Yellen's nomination may reveal the level of Republican
opposition to the Democratic president's plans, for which he is seeking
Already some Republicans are expressing concerns over its price tag and
increased debt in a return to fiscal conservatism after running up
deficits with the 2017 tax cuts and nearly $5 trillion in coronavirus
spending last year under former Republican President Donald Trump.
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, was not confirmed until
three weeks after Trump's inauguration, and then by a 53-47 nearly
party-line vote in a Republican-controlled Senate.
The committee vote is scheduled for 10 a.m. (1500 GMT) and Senate aides
said it could pave the way for a full Senate confirmation vote later in
the day on Friday.
Yellen faces both an evenly split committee and an evenly divided full
Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote
Yellen's confirmation hearing on Tuesday highlighted some Republican
lawmakers' concerns about her role in executing Biden's economic
policies, including a bigger federal debt burden and repealing parts of
their signature 2017 tax cuts.
[to top of second column]
Janet Yellen, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be
treasury secretary, speaks as Biden announces nominees and
appointees to serve on his economic policy team at his transition
headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 1, 2020.
Yellen told senators they needed to "act big" on the proposed $1.9
trillion stimulus package or risk a longer recession and long-term
economic scarring, job and revenue losses.
Her remarks represent a new attitude toward government debt among
some economists and policy-makers: Focus on the interest rate being
paid and the returns it will generate, rather than the overall
amount borrowed. 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
study raising tax rates for "pass-through" small businesses
including sole proprietorships, imposing a new minimum corporate tax
and raising capital gains taxes on the wealthy. She also endorsed an
effective carbon pricing system and financial regulation to combat
systemic risks from climate change.
Outside partisan factors could cast a shadow over the confirmation
vote, including the pending impeachment trial of Trump and an ethics
complaint against Republican Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz over
their objections to Biden's Nov. 3 election victory even after
pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
With Yellen still awaiting confirmation, the Biden administration on
Wednesday named Andy Baukol, a longtime career international finance
official, as acting Treasury secretary. A confirmation hearing for
Deputy Treasury Secretary nominee Wally Adeyemo has not yet been
(Reporting by David Lawder and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather
Timmons and Peter Cooney)
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