Yellen set for Senate confirmation vote as first woman Treasury secretary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate is set to vote on Janet Yellen’s nomination as the first woman Treasury secretary on Monday, putting her quickly to work with Congress on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal.

U.S. outgoing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen holds a news conference after a two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting in Washington, U.S. December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Yellen on Friday sailed through with a unanimous approval vote in the Senate Finance Committee, indicating that she has enough votes to easily win confirmation. Republicans pledged to work with her despite expressing concerns about Biden’s massive spending and tax hike plans.

Senate Democrats, who now control the evenly split chamber’s schedule, have planned the vote for 5:30 p.m. EST (2230 GMT). The Senate is due to receive articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump 90 minutes later at 7 p.m. EST.

Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan and has pledged to invest $2 trillion in infrastructure, green energy projects, education and research to boost American competitiveness. He has said he also plans to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21% and increase taxes on those making over $400,000 a year.

Finance Committee Republicans expressed concerns over the price tag and increased debt in a return to fiscal conservatism after running up deficits during Trump’s term with the 2017 tax cuts and nearly $5 trillion in coronavirus spending.

A confirmation for former Federal Reserve Chair Yellen less than a week after Biden took office is quick by recent standards. Her Republican predecessor, Steven Mnuchin, was not confirmed until three weeks after Trump’s 2017 inauguration on a party-line vote.

The Treasury on Monday announced more members of Yellen’s team at Treasury, bringing back some Obama administration veterans who served at the agency.

The Treasury named Natalie Wyeth Earnest as counselor to the Treasury secretary for strategic communications. Earnest had served as assistant secretary for public affairs at Treasury under former Secretary Jack Lew and served in various communications roles under former Secretary Tim Geithner.

Mark Mazur, director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and a former Treasury assistant secretary for tax policy, was named as deputy assistant secretary for tax policy in Treasury’s Office of Legislative Affairs.

Treasury named Aruna Kalyanam, most recently House Ways and Means Committee deputy chief tax counsel, as deputy assistant secretary for tax and budget in the Office of Legislative Affairs.

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