Janet Yellen at Helm of Treasury Is a Big First

Senate OKs Biden's nominee, making her the first woman to lead the department
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 25, 2021 10:34 PM CST
Updated Jan 26, 2021 12:01 AM CST
Senate OKs Yellen as First Woman Treasury Secretary
President-elect Joe Biden, right, listens as Janet Yellen, nominated by Biden to serve as secretary of the treasury, speaks at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Senate on Monday approved President Biden's nomination of Janet Yellen to be the nation's 78th Treasury secretary, making her the first woman to hold the job in the department's 232-year history. Yellen, a former chair of the Federal Reserve, was approved by the Senate in an 84-15 vote, becoming the third member of Biden's Cabinet to win confirmation, per the AP. The 15 votes against her all came from Republicans. Yellen is expected to play a key role in gaining congressional approval of Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which is running into stiff opposition from Republicans who believe the price tag is too high. Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer noted that Yellen, 74, had bipartisan support, thanks to her "breathtaking range of experience."

Before the approval by the full Senate, Yellen had received unanimous backing from the Senate Finance Committee. As Treasury secretary, Yellen will occupy a pivotal role in shaping and directing Biden's economic policies. She enters the Treasury job after many years serving in other top economic jobs, including as the first woman to serve as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018. An economist by training who was a professor at UC-Berkeley, Yellen will represent the Biden administration in global financial affairs and lead a sprawling department whose responsibilities cover overseeing IRS tax collections, making policy on banking regulations, and serving as the administration's contact with Wall Street. "She can take complicated economic theories and put them into understandable language—all while showing a real heart for the millions of Americans who are hurting through no fault of their own," Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said before the vote.

(More Janet Yellen stories.)

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