Senate vote on Janet Yellen as Treasury chief unlikely until next week: Sources

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The US Senate Finance Committee is unlikely to vote on the nomination of Janet Yellen for Treasury Secretary until next week, congressional sources said on Wednesday despite a push by Democrats to confirm her on Thursday (Jan 21).

News of the expected delay came as the new administration of President Joe Biden, who was sworn in on Wednesday, named several people to senior Treasury posts.

Committee members have until Wednesday evening to submit additional questions related to Ms Yellen’s confirmation hearing, leaving just a day for Ms Yellen to respond and the Senate to act before lawmakers head home for the weekend.

Ms Yellen urged lawmakers on Tuesday to “act big” on coronavirus relief spending, arguing that the economic benefits far outweigh the risks of a higher debt burden.

One source familiar with the congressional process said a second hearing was unlikely, although Ms Yellen’s predecessor Steven Mnuchin had to sit through a second round of questioning when he was confirmed in 2017.

Democrats will take control of the Senate Finance Committee when the current Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer agree on organising principles, since the Senate is split 50-50, with Vice-President Kamala Harris able to cast a tie-breaking vote.

If Ms Yellen answers members’ questions quickly, there is an outside chance her nomination could be rushed through, but the sources said it was more likely to be voted on early next week.

The Treasury named Ms Didem Nisanci as chief of staff and Mr Calvin Mitchell as assistant secretary for public affairs and Mr Jacob Leibenluft as counselor to the Treasury secretary.

Ms Nisanci, previously Bloomberg LP’s global head of public policy, had served as chief of staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission during the Obama administration.

Mr Mitchell, who held several communications roles in the Clinton administration, had later served as executive vice-president of communications at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and head of corporate affairs at Thomson Reuters.

Mr Leibenluft, a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress, had been deputy director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration.

Ms Marti Adams, who served in Treasury public affairs during the Obama administration and later worked in communications for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, was named Executive Secretary.

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