US Election 2020

US Election 2020: who will be Biden's Treasury Secretary and when will it be announced?

Joe Biden has already chosen Steven Mnuchin's replacement. Their first task will be to negotiate a deal on the new covid-19 economic stimulus package.

US Election 2020: who will be Biden's Treasury Secretary and when will it be announced?
JIM WATSON AFP

President-elect Joe Biden announced at a press conference in Wilmington, Delaware that he has already decided who he will nominate as his Treasury Secretary. He refused to be drawn on who it would be but did give some hints as to the type of appointment he is going to make.

He told reporters: “It’s someone who will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, from the progressive to the moderate coalitions.” This would fit with his campaign promises to bring the country together and he is not expected enforce any radical changes, certainly not during the early months of his presidency. Senator Elizabeth Warren had been mooted by some as a potential candidate but her vocal support of progressive viewpoints would seem to rule her out on that basis.

Biden has not given an exact date for the announcement, but added “You’ll soon hear my choice for Treasury, either just before or just after Thanksgiving.”

Who is in the frame to be the next Treasury Secretary?

With the country in the midst of an economic crisis control of the purse-strings will be particularly important when Biden takes office in January. Historically, the position has been incredibly unrepresentative with only white men chosen in the 231 years that it has existed. However it appears that this will change this time around.

The first of those though to be incontention for the role is Lael Brainard, who currently serves on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. She was also the Under Secretary of the Treasury during the Obama administration so would be well-known to former Vice President Biden.

Another in the frame is Janet L. Yellen, a former Chair of the Federal Reserve who has also served on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. As Governor she was a part of both the Obama and the Trump administrations and was appointed as Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton.

The final candidate on the shortlist is Roger W. Ferguson Jr. The 69-year-old also has a long history with the Federal Reserve, serving as Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors from 1999 to 2006. Ferguson worked under both the Clinton and the Bush Administrations, and would become the first person of colour to be named as Treasury Secretary if appointed.

Tough negotiations in line for whoever gets the job

The current Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has spent much of the last few months desperately trying to find some compromise in Congress to get a second large-scale covid-19 stimulus package agreed. Even once President Trump had agreed to match and even exceed the Democrats’ offer there was no way of getting it past the Republican-led Senate.

The size of the task for Mnuchin’s replacement will largely be defined by the outcome of the two Senate run-off races in Georgia. Two extremely close Senate elections have triggered what is known as a run-off for the remaining two seats in Georgia, with the balance of power in the Senate still hanging by a thread.

If the Democrats win both then they will control both House of Congress and the White House; making it much easier for them to pass legislation. If the Republicans can hold onto at least one of those seats then they will retain control of the Upper House, and the new Treasury Secretary will need to find some common ground to get the all-important stimulus bill passed.