If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Yellen would become the first woman to serve as treasury secretary and would be Mr. Biden’s chief economic advisor as he seeks to lead the nation’s recovery from the coronavirus shutdown.
The news of the Yellen nomination, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes as the nation deals with an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases that played havoc with Thanksgiving plans and sparked talk of another economic shutdown.
Ms. Yellen, who was praised by President Trump for her tenure as Fed chair, was widely hailed as an inspired choice for the post, although some far-left Democrats thought Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would have been a good fit to lead the department.
But the failure of Democrats to flip more seats in the Senate complicated things.
There are doubts about whether a Republican-led Senate would confirm Ms. Warren, who has earned GOP hostility for, among other things, accusing Sen. Jeff Sessions of being a racist during his confirmation to become President Trump’s first attorney general.
In addition, a Warren Cabinet pick would raise the possibility that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker would appoint a fellow Republican to Ms. Warren’s seat.
For her part, Ms. Warren celebrated the news of the Yellen pick, calling her an “outstanding choice.”
“She is smart, tough, and principled,” Ms. Warren said on Twitter. “As one of the most successful Fed Chairs ever, she has stood up to Wall Street banks, including holding Wells Fargo accountable for cheating working families.”
The 74-year-old is expected to be relied on to help the administration hash coronavirus recovery legislation on Capitol Hill, where Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, looks likely to remain as head of the upper chamber.
Mr. Biden said last week his pick would come around Thanksgiving and said that it would be “someone who I think will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, progressives through the moderate coalition.”
Robert Reich, the labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, wrote on Twitter: “2 cheers for Janet Yellen at Treasury.”
“She’s not @SenWarren but she’s not from the Street (in fact at the Fed she came down hard on Wells Fargo), and understands the huge toll stagnant wages, systemic racism, and widening inequality have taken on our economy and society.”
Conservative groups warned that Ms. Yellen has some drawbacks.
“Joe Biden’s top Treasury Secretary prospect wants to impose a carbon tax on the American people,” Americans for Tax Reform said in an email blast. “Biden and Kamala Harris have also endorsed a carbon tax, an idea so radical that it was rejected by Hillary Clinton because it would devastate low-income households.”
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