Janet Yellen won overwhelming Senate confirmation as the first woman to lead the U.S. Treasury on Monday, setting her quickly to work with Congress on coronavirus relief, reviewing U.S. sanctions policy and strengthening financial regulation, Reuters writes.
The Senate voted 84-15 to confirm Yellen, with all opposition coming from Republicans, several of whom have expressed concerns about President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid plan, tax hikes and other spending initiatives.
Shortly after the vote, House of Representatives Democrats delivered to the Senate a charge of impeachment against former President Donald Trump, accusing him of inciting insurrection in a speech to supporters before the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. The planned February trial has stoked some partisan divisions in the chamber, but those were largely absent on Monday.
“Secretary Yellen’s confirmation shatters another glass ceiling,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a statement. “In a field dominated by men, it’s refreshing to finally see a woman leading the Treasury Department.”
Yellen, 74, made history in 2014 when she became the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve. A portrait of the economist and daughter of a Brooklyn, New York, family doctor will join those of 76 other secretaries in Treasury’s hallways, dating back to the first, Alexander Hamilton.
She won the votes of 34 Republicans in a strong bipartisan vote, with a number of them pledging to work with her.
“I hope bipartisanship continues & we can work 2gether on commonsense tax/fiscal policy for all Americans,” Republican Senator Chuck Grassley wrote on Twitter.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz congratulated Yellen and voiced hope that she could help lead progress on reaching an international agreement on digital taxation. He told Reuters: “Janet Yellen is a very impressive person.”
Yellen will play a key role in working with Congress on Biden’s coronavirus stimulus plans and on his pledges to invest $2 trillion in infrastructure, green energy projects, education and research to boost American competitiveness.
Treasury will oversee Biden’s plans to help finance these initiatives by trying to persuade Congress to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and increase taxes on Americans making over $400,000 a year.
Republicans have expressed concerns over the price tag and increased debt in a return to fiscal conservatism after running up deficits during Trump’s term with 2017 tax cuts and nearly $5 trillion in coronavirus spending.
Yellen told senators at her confirmation hearing last week that they needed to raise the minimum wage and “act big” on stimulus measures or risk a longer, more painful recession brought on by the pandemic.