Biden’s latest choices
New advisers to include Yellen, other veterans.
WASHINGTON— Presidentelect Joe Biden has chosen former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to serve as Treasury secretary, a pivotal role in which she would help shape and direct his economic policies at a difficult time, according to a person familiar with the transition plans.
Yellen, who is widely admired in the financial world, would be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department in a line stretching back to Alexander Hamilton in 1789. Her nomination was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Biden’s plans.
If confirmed, Yellen would inherit a shaky economy, weakened by the pandemic recession and now in the grip of a surging viral epidemic that is intensifying pressure on businesses and individuals.
Concern is rising that the economy could slide into a “double-dip” recession this winter as states and cities reimpose restrictions on businesses and consumers stay home to avoid contracting the disease.
A pathfinding figure in the male-dominated economics field, Yellen, 74, was also the first woman to serve as Fed chair, from 2014 to 2018. She later became an adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign in an unusual departure for a former Fed leader.
“She will bring to the role deep economic and policymaking expertise, national and international stature, and a ... personal commitment to fostering strong labor market conditions that draw in marginalized workers,” said Krishna Guha, an analyst at investment bank Evercore ISI.
The Treasury post would add a chapter to Yellen’s career in financial policy-making. She would represent the administration in global financial affairs and lead a sprawling department whose responsibilities range from the government’s finances and tax collections to currency markets, bank regulation and the printing of money.
Yellen would also take on the
formidable task of helping negotiate economic policy with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who will remain majority leader if his party wins at least one of two Senate runoff elections in Georgia in early January.
Those talks would likely focus most urgently on a new stimulus package that most economists say is vital to sustaining an economic recovery.
Biden onMonday also named Obama administration veterans for top national security positions, signaling a stark shift from the Trump administration’s “America first” policies that discounted international alliances, career diplomats and other veteran government officials.
The six picks, including former Secretary of State John Kerry, mark a return to a more traditional approach to America’s relations with the rest of the world and reflect Biden’s campaign promises to have his Cabinet reflect the diversity of the country.
In choosing foreign policy veterans, Biden appears to be seeking to upend Trump’s focus on the so-called deep state that saw an exodus of senior and midlevel career officials from government, notably from the ranks of the State Department and National Security Council, including some who were fired for voicing opposition to the president’s moves.
Biden will nominate his longtime adviser Antony Blinken to be secretary of state, lawyer Alejandro Mayorkas to be homeland security secretary and Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United Nations. Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, will be nominated as director of national intelligence, the first woman to hold that post.
The incoming president will also appoint Jake Sullivan to be his national security adviser and Kerry to be his climate change envoy. Those posts do not require Senate confirmation.
The choices reflect Biden’s emphasis on developing a diverse team with ThomasGreenfield, a Black woman, at the helm of the U.S. mission to the United Nations, andMayorkas, a Cuban American lawyer who will be the first Latino to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
They “are experienced, crisistested leaders who are ready to hit the ground running on day one,” the transition said in a statement.
“These officials will start working immediately to rebuild our institutions, renew and reimagine American leadership to keep Americans safe at home and abroad, and address the defining challenges of our time — from infectious disease, to terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats, and climate change.”
The best known of the bunch is Kerry, who made climate change one of his top priorities while serving as Obama’s secretary of state, during which he also negotiated the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord. Trump withdrew from both agreements, which he said represented a failure of American diplomacy in a direct shot at Kerry, whom he called the worst secretary of state in U.S. history.
“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is,” Kerry said. “I’m proud to partner with the president-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the president’s climate envoy.”