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As Coronavirus Rages And Economy Sputters, Biden To Formally Unveil Economic Team

Janet Yellen, seen here in 2017, would be the first female treasury secretary in U.S. history, if confirmed by the Senate.
Janet Yellen, seen here in 2017, would be the first female treasury secretary in U.S. history, if confirmed by the Senate.

With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases spiking and the nation's job market struggling to pull itself out of the abyss caused by the pandemic, President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday is set to formally announce the advisers he hopes can guide the United States back to solid economic footing.

The six-person economic team Biden has tapped — which was revealed on Monday — is a who's who list of veterans who served in previous Democratic administrations and, if confirmed, includes a number of historic firsts.

Prior to the announcement, the Biden-Harris transition team Tuesday tweeted that "the federal government must act aggressively to help protect and support our families, small businesses, first responders, and caregivers affected by COVID-19."

Biden is set to announce his economic advisers at 12:30 p.m. ET.Watch live.

The incoming administration's economic team is led by Janet Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair who Biden nominated for treasury secretary. Yellen would become the first woman to lead the department in its 231 years of existence.

Other nominees and appointees include Cecilia Rouse, who was selected to be chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Like the treasury secretary, the post requires Senate confirmation.

And should she be confirmed, Rouse, who currently serves as dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, would also be a trailblazer.

She would be just the fourth woman and the first Black woman to lead the CEA since it was established nearly 75 years ago.

Other Biden-Harris transition economic appointees include Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey as members of the CEA. Both served as economic advisers to Biden during his time as vice president.

Biden also named Wally Adeyemo, who, if confirmed, would become the Treasury Department's first Black deputy secretary.

Perhaps no other name on Biden's proposed economic team has created more blowback from Republicans than Neera Tanden. She also needs Senate confirmation to serve as Biden's director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Tanden — who is the CEO of the left-leaning public policy organization the Center for American Progress and a veteran of both the Clinton and Obama administrations — would be the first woman of color to lead OMB.

But as rumblings of her nomination began to surface over the weekend, Republicans cast immediate doubt on her chances of getting confirmed.

"Neera Tanden, who has an endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican Senators' whose votes she'll need, stands zero chance of being confirmed," tweeted Drew Brandewie, a spokesman for Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa struck a much more conciliatory tone on Capitol Hill Monday when asked about Yellen as treasury secretary.

"I believe she'd get a favorable view," Grassley said, adding he didn't want to make a judgement on her nomination until the confirmation hearings have transpired.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.
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