What Janet Yellen Has Said About COVID Stimulus, Checks

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, widely tipped to be President-elect Joe Biden's treasury secretary pick, previously called for "extraordinary fiscal support" to be offered to Americans as the economy continued to recover from the COVID-19 crash.

According to several media reports, Biden is expected to select Yellen as his nominee for the Treasury Department, a move that would make her the U.S.'s first ever female treasury secretary, should she be confirmed by the Senate.

If the ex-Fed boss does assume the office after the president-elect's inauguration in January next year, she will be charged with steering the U.S. economy back on track, ensuring American workers can stay afloat and curbing the increase in unemployment triggered by the coronavirus outbreak.

While her actions at the top of the Federal Reserve in the wake of the 2008 financial crash have won plaudits from some, Yellen could have her work cut out for her if she takes the reins at the Treasury with lawmakers on Capitol Hill still unable to agree on a second COVID relief bill.

Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during her last news conference in office on December 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate her for the treasury secretary post. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Speaking to Bloomberg TV in mid-October, Yellen stressed the need for further financial aid to be handed to local governments and unemployed Americans as the recovery from the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic slowed.

"While the pandemic is still seriously affecting the economy, we need to continue extraordinary fiscal support," Yellen told the network. "We need support for the economy from both monetary and fiscal policy. Monetary policy has already done a huge amount."

The economist later said it was important to get COVID itself under control, through contact tracing and other measures, to fully enable the reopening of the U.S. economy.

"I think we need a much more effective effort than we've had, and if we have that it will be good not only for health, but for being able to open up the economy," she said.

In an earlier interview with PBS Newshour, Yellen said it was "simply essential" for households and businesses to receive government support amid the worst of the pandemic turmoil.

"They're struggling to meet everyday expenses for food and rent and utilities," she told PBS in April. "And this is due to no fault of their own and no problems with the job market."

Newsweek has contacted Janet Yellen for comment and will update this article with any response. The Biden transition team has also been approached for comment.

Democrats and Republicans have yet to reach a deal on a second COVID relief bill as they continue to vie over the size and outline of the next stimulus package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also ordered a recess for the upper chamber over the Thanksgiving holidays, meaning lawmakers won't return until next week.

As the situation stands, Democrats have put their weight behind the $2.2 trillion HEROES Act—a trimmed down version of the $3 trillion HEROES Act passed by the House of Representatives in May.

Meanwhile, Republicans have largely supported a "skinny" $500 billion stimulus proposal that was voted down by Senate Democrats in late October.