President-elect Joe Biden named key members of his economic team on Monday, with the long-expected announcement of Janet Yellen as treasury secretary along with three other women in top roles on a diverse team that will help him navigate the nation’s punishing fiscal headwinds in hopes of building an economic recovery.
Biden named Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget, elevating Tanden, the CEO and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, into the top ranks of his administration. Tanden would be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to become director of the Office of Management and Budget if confirmed by the Senate.
The announcement of Tanden sparked more outrage than any nominee has so far, with progressive Democrats and Republicans expressing opposition. A spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said Tanden “has an endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican Senators, whose votes she’ll need, stands zero chance of being confirmed.”
He named Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton economist, to lead the Council of Economic Advisers, which puts another Black woman in a high-profile role of Biden’s top advisers. Rouse would be the first woman of color to chair the Council of Economic Advisers if confirmed by the Senate. She served on the council during the Obama administration.
Among the barrier-breaking nominees Biden announced is Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, president of the Obama Foundation in Chicago, for deputy Treasury Secretary, serving under Yellen. If confirmed, he would be the first Black deputy Treasury Secretary. Adeyemo served on the National Economic Council of the Obama administration and last fall was named as the first president of the Obama Foundation.
“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. “This team is comprised of respected and tested groundbreaking public servants who will help the communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and address the structural inequities in our economy.”
Biden also named Jared Bernstein, a longtime economic adviser to Biden, as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers. Bernstein previously served as the executive director of the White House task force on the middle class and as an economic adviser to President Barack Obama. He was also the deputy chief economist at the Department of Labor under President Bill Clinton.
The President-elect announced Heather Boushey, who has been one of Biden’s chief economic policy advisers during the campaign, would serve as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers. Boushey is a longtime economic counselor to Biden and currently serves as president and CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a nonprofit she cofounded in 2013.
The new team is set to be formally introduced by Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during an event Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, according to the transition team.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on Biden’s expected top economic picks.
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The economic team is among the most critical pieces of the new administration, whose successes or failures will play a large role in determining the course of the Biden presidency.
Biden is also still set to name the leader of the National Economic Council, officials said, as well as United States Trade Representative, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other posts.
It is unclear whether Biden will name his Commerce Secretary nominee this week, officials said, and the timing of other key economic positions also could be shifted based on final decisions and last-minute adjustments.
Several people close to the transition tell CNN this is a glimpse of leading contenders for other key roles on the economic team:
Brian Deese, a former top economic adviser in the Obama-Biden administration, is among the leading contenders to head the National Economic Council, officials said. He served as deputy director of the OMB and the NEC and is now a top official at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager.
Roger Ferguson Jr., who served as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, is also seen as a leading contender for the National Economic Council, officials said, but could also be named to another top economic post.
Katherine Tai is among the leading contenders to serve as US Trade Representative, officials said, a critical position as the Biden administration moves beyond the trade policies of the Trump era. Tai is the top Democratic trade counsel on the House Ways and Means Committee and oversaw trade enforcement for China during the Obama administration. She also played a key role in negotiating trade policy for Democrats in the US-Mexico Canada Agreement.
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The roster of contenders for the various economic posts inside the West Wing also includes Gene Sperling, a veteran of the Clinton and Obama administrations, and Ben Harris, who also worked in the Obama administration.
Several other candidates have also risen to the top for high-profile economic jobs, officials said, including Lisa Cook, an economist at Michigan State who also worked in the Obama administration.
Austan Goolsbee, who served as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the second term of the Obama administration, has also been mentioned for top posts in the Biden White House. But Goolsbee dismissed that possibility on Sunday, telling CNN’s Manu Raju: “I don’t plan to be going into the administration.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting and announcements on Monday.