The Senate has approved President Joe 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.
Ms Yellen, a former chair of the Federal Reserve, was approved by the Senate on a 84-15 vote, becoming the third member of President Biden’s Cabinet to win confirmation.
She is expected to play a key role in gaining congressional approval of President Biden’s 1.9 trillion dollars coronavirus relief package, which is running into stiff opposition from Republicans who believe the price tag is too high.
I am so proud that the Senate will confirm Dr. Janet Yellen to be the first woman to ever hold the position of Treasury Secretary. She's a native of working-class Brooklyn, and no one has more experience for this job.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 25, 2021
Speaking on the Senate floor before the vote, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer noted the former Federal Reserve chairwoman had bipartisan support.
Mr Schumer said Ms Yellen has a “breathtaking range of experience” and support for her nomination reflected “just how well suited she is to manage the economic challenges of our time… particularly during this moment of economic crisis”.
Before the approval by the full Senate, Ms Yellen had received unanimous backing from the Senate Finance Committee.
Republicans on the panel said they had a number of policy disagreements with Ms Yellen and the Biden administration in such areas as raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, but believed it was important to allow President Biden to assemble his economic team quickly.
At her confirmation hearing before the Finance Committee last week, Ms Yellen had argued that without prompt action the nation faced the threat of a “longer, more painful recession”.