WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) — U.S. President-elect Joe Biden named several women to his top economic policy team on Monday, including former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary nominee, setting the stage for diversity and a focus on recovery from the pandemic.
The advisers, several of whom would need to be approved by the U.S. Senate, come from liberal research organizations and worked in previous Democratic administrations. Their aim will be to set policies that can help people and businesses recover from the damage done by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 267,000 people in the United States and cost millions of jobs.
"This team looks like America and brings seriousness of purpose, the highest degree of competency, and unwavering belief in the promise of America," Biden said in a statement. "They will be ready on day one to get to work for all Americans."
Biden is expected to formally introduce the new economic team members on Tuesday, the transition team said.
Arizona and Wisconsin completed their state vote confirmations on Monday, undermining President Donald Trump's attempts to dispute his loss to Biden in the Nov. 3 presidential election by making unsubstantiated claims of fraud. Arizona certified its election results in favor of the Democrat and Wisconsin's elections commission chair said recounts in two counties confirmed Biden won the state.
The Trump campaign is pursuing long-shot legal cases that seek to overturn Biden's victories in Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, while others have been dismissed or withdrawn in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona. None have scored significant gains for Trump.
Push for early Yellen hearing
Yellen, 74, was head of the U.S. central bank from 2014 to 2018 and had served as the chair of President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers.
On Twitter, she underscored the challenges facing the United States: "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. As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all."
Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said Yellen's confirmation hearing should occur before Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration, as it did for Steve Mnuchin, the present treasury secretary.
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.— Janet Yellen (@JanetYellen) November 30, 2020
As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all.
"When millions of workers are unemployed through no fault of their own and sectors of the economy are struggling mightily, there is no excuse for delay," Wyden said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who like many top Republicans in that chamber has not yet acknowledged Biden as president-elect, did not respond to questions about pre-inauguration hearings. His colleagues have signaled that Biden's appointees may face a rough road to confirmation.
Control of the Senate — and the power to confirm or block Biden's Cabinet appointees — will be determined by a pair of runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5.
The Electoral College, which selects presidents based on state-by-state vote totals, meets on Dec. 14. Biden has 306 electors to Trump's 232.
Biden said he would nominate Wally Adeyemo as Yellen's deputy at Treasury. Adeyemo was a deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama, and was later the president of the Obama Foundation, which is overseeing the planning for the Democratic former president's library.
Neera Tanden, chief executive of the Center for American Progress, would head the Office of Management and Budget. Tanden helped the Obama administration create the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare overhaul popularly known as Obamacare, which Republicans have tried to dismantle.
Republican U.S. senators voiced few concerns about Yellen, with Senator John Cornyn telling reporters he didn't "have any problem with her."
He was more concerned about Tanden, calling her the "worst nominee so far."
She would be the first woman of color to lead the OMB if she is confirmed.
Biden selected Cecilia Rouse, an economist who is dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. She was a member of the council under Obama from 2009 to 2011.
Heather Boushey, an economist who is the co-founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and is focused on economic inequality, will serve on the council.
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw in Wilmington, Delaware, additional reporting by Brad Heath, Trevor Hunnicutt, Simon Lewis, Patricia Zengerle, Doina Chiacu and Andrea Shalal; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Scott Malone, Paul Simao and Rosalba O'Brien)
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