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US Senate confirms Yellen as first female treasury secretary

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The US Senate has confirmed Janet Yellen as the first female US treasury secretary on Monday.

Ms Yellen, who headed the US central bank from 2014 to 2018, earlier won bipartisan support from members of the Senate Finance Committee.

She will be responsible for guiding the Biden administration’s economic response to the pandemic.

The US is struggling to rebound economically from the hit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At her confirmation hearing on 19 January, Ms Yellen urged Congress to approve trillions more in pandemic relief and economic stimulus, saying that lawmakers should “act big” without worrying about the national debt.

In response, Republican senators warned the former Federal Reserve leader this was not the time for “a laundry list” of liberal reforms.

Ms Yellen disagreed, highlighting the fact that many families whose incomes have fallen were not reached by jobless programmes.

She argued that plans to raise taxes must be seen in the context of financing bigger investments necessary to make the US economy competitive.

“Neither the President-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden,” she told the Senate Finance Committee at her confirmation hearing last week.

“The focus now is not on tax increases. It is on programmes to help us get through the pandemic,” she stressed.

Janet Yellen was previously chair of the US Federal Reserve.

She was known for focusing more attention on the impact of the central bank’s policies on workers and the costs of America’s rising inequality.

Before then-President Barack Obama named her to lead the Fed in 2014, she had served as one of its board members for a decade, including four years as vice-chair.

BBC

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