Senate vote on Yellen as Treasury head unlikely until next week: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Finance Committee is unlikely to vote Janet Yellen’s appointment as Treasury Secretary until next week, Congressional sources said Wednesday despite a push from Democrats to confirm it Thursday.

News of the expected delay came when the new administration of President Joe Biden, who was sworn in on Wednesday, appointed several people for senior positions in the Treasury.

Committee members have until Wednesday evening to submit further questions related to Yellen’s confirmation hearing, leaving only one day for Yellen to respond and the Senate to take action before lawmakers go home for the weekend.

Yellen urged lawmakers on Tuesday to “act big” on coronavirus spending, arguing that the economic benefits far outweigh the risks of a greater debt burden.

A source familiar with the congressional process said a second hearing was unlikely, although Yellen’s predecessor Steven Mnuchin had to undergo a second round of interrogations when it was confirmed in 2017.

Democrats will take control of the Senate Finance Committee when current Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer agree on organizing principles, as the Senate is 50% split, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to cast a casting vote .

If Yellen responds quickly to questions from members, there is an external possibility that her nomination could be approved quickly, but sources said she was more likely to be voted on early next week.

The Treasury has appointed Didem Nisanci as chief of staff and Calvin Mitchell as assistant secretary for public affairs and Jacob Leibenluft as advisor to the treasury secretary.

Nisanci, formerly Bloomberg LP’s head of global public policy, had served as chief of staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission during the Obama administration. Mitchell, who held various communications industry roles in the Clinton administration, was later executive vice president of communications at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and head of corporate affairs at Thomson Reuters.

Leibenluft, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, had been deputy director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration.

Marti Adams, who served in public affairs of the Treasury during the Obama administration and later worked in communications for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, was named Executive Secretary.

(This story was redone to correct the spelling of the NYC mayor’s name in the final paragraph)

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Stephen Coates