By Ken Bredemeier
WASHINGTON – U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Monday named his top officials to deal with the country’s coronavirus-ravaged economy, including former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department in its 231-year history.
In addition, Biden named Neera Tanden, currently president of the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington public policy research and advocacy group, as director of the government’s Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed by the Senate, Tanden would be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to head the agency.
Biden also named Wally Adeyemo, a longtime economic policy official, to be Yellen’s deputy, the first African American to hold the second-ranking position at the Treasury Department.
The president-elect named labor economist Cecilia Rouse, dean of Princeton University’s public and international affairs school, as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. She would be the first Black and the fourth woman to hold the job.
Biden picked two other economists – Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey – as members of the economic council.
“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in a statement.
The coronavirus pandemic has wrought significant damage on the U.S. economy, the world’s largest.
Many of the 22 million jobs lost as the virus swept into the United States from China and Europe have been recovered. While the number of layoffs of workers totaled in the millions several months ago, for much of October and November, more than 700,000 newly unemployed workers filed for unemployment compensation, even now a level unseen in records that date to the 1960s.
Biden’s latest appointments underscore the incoming president’s promise to create a top rung of officials that demographically “looks like America,” one staffed with numerous female appointees and people of color. Biden’s nominees for top positions contrast the largely white, male-dominated roster of top officeholders in the outgoing administration of President Donald Trump.
On Sunday, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris named an all-woman communications team, to be headed by campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield and Jen Psaki as press secretary.
Biden received his first President’s Daily Brief on Monday, gaining access to the report prepared by the U.S. intelligence community on national security issues the United States faces.
Biden is preparing to take office at his inauguration as the 46th U.S. president on January 20. He holds an unofficial 306-232 vote lead in the Electoral College, which determines the outcome of U.S. presidential elections, not the national popular vote, although Biden leads there, too, by more than 6 million votes.
The state-by-state vote in the Electoral College is set for December 14, with Congress certifying the outcome in early January.
Biden’s transition to the presidency officially began last week after a government agency declared him the apparent winner of the November 3 presidential election.
Trump, however, is continuing his long-shot legal effort to upend Biden’s victory even as the president says he will abide by the Electoral College outcome.
Trump has refused to concede defeat while claiming, without evidence, that the election was rigged against him.
Trump and his campaign have lost or withdrawn more than 30 lawsuits claiming vote and vote-counting irregularities, but they are appealing at least one of the verdicts against him to the U.S. Supreme Court.