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Senate Finance Committee unanimously approves Yellen

Final Senate vote last step for first woman Treasury secretary

By a unanimous 26-0 vote, the Senate Finance Committee approved Janet Yellen’s nomination to become U.S. Treasury Secretary on Friday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said there would be no other votes in the Senate on Friday, meaning there will not be confirmation of Yellen as Treasury Secretary until this weekend or next week, if she is approved.

Yellen has been confirmed by the Senate on four occasions, most recently as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018.

Her Treasury appointment comes at a pivotal time in the forthcoming presidential administration, as President Joe Biden unveiled his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package last week. The plan has received both praise and scrutiny, as the national debt has already exceeded the annual output of the country’s economy – around $21.6 trillion.

But Yellen told lawmakers on Tuesday the best policy was to “act big” to support struggling Americans. Specifically, she pushed hard for a minimum wage jump to $15 an hour.

“Yellen is a solid pick who can help steer the economy forward, calm the market when necessary and is unlikely to introduce any controversial policy surprises,” said Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist.

“In regards to the real estate industry, she understands the important role our housing market plays in America’s economic growth and recognizes the societal benefits and wealth building opportunities that homeownership can bring, especially among minority households.”

Biden said in November he planned to choose a candidate that would appeal to all camps within the Democratic party.

As Federal Reserve Chair, Yellen worked to bring stability to the economic market in the wake of the housing crisis of 2008. Yellen oversaw a program to sell Treasury and mortgage bonds that the Fed had purchased to stimulate the economy.

Yun said he hopes Yellen will place an “equal emphasis” on policy affecting commercial real estate – bringing vibrancy to local communities and turning raw land into developable lots. 

“That is especially important in the current environment of acute housing shortage,” Yun said. 

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