Yellen Calls for More Aid to Avoid Longer, More Painful Recession

WASHINGTON—Janet Yellen, President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for Treasury secretary, plans to tell lawmakers that the U.S. risks a longer, more painful recession unless Congress approves more aid and urge them to “act big” to shore up the recovery.

Ms. Yellen is set to testify Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee, which is considering her nomination, according to a copy of her prepared remarks that was viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

“Economists don’t always agree, but I think there is a consensus now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now—and long-term scarring of the economy later,” Ms. Yellen will say. “Over the next few months, we are going to need more aid to distribute the vaccine; to reopen schools; to help states keep firefighters and teachers on the job.”

Mr. Biden’s nomination of Ms. Yellen positions the 74-year-old labor economist to lead his administration’s efforts to advance the recovery from the destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns. She will also play a key role in pushing the administration’s economic agenda on Capitol Hill, a job that will start in earnest Tuesday, said Tony Fratto, a senior Treasury and White House aide in the George W. Bush administration.

Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, unveiled last week, provides for another round of direct stimulus payments, extended and enhanced jobless benefits, funding for schools and first responders and the creation of a nationwide vaccination program. It also includes longstanding Democratic priorities, such as raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and expanding paid leave for workers.

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