January 25, 2021

Brown to Senate Colleagues: Yellen Understands the Dignity of Work

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), presumed incoming chair of U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, took to the Senate Floor to urge his colleagues to confirm Janet Yellen as Secretary of the Treasury Department. Yellen has broad bipartisan support and if confirmed, will be the first woman to hold the position.

Video of the remarks can be found here.

Brown’s remarks on the Senate Floor, as prepared for delivery, are below:


Mr./Mdme. President,

A few days after our first woman vice president was sworn into office, we’re about to confirm the first woman to step into one of the leading roles in our economy.

Janet Yellen made history when she served as chair of the Federal Reserve, and she’s about to make history again today, as Secretary of the Treasury.

She will be the first person to ever have held all three of the top positions in our economy – Chair the Council of Economic Advisors, Chair the Federal Reserve, and now Treasury Secretary.

And now more than ever, we need her leadership, her vision, and her appreciation for the people who make this country work.

As Fed Chair, and as a labor economist, she made it clear that she understands what drives our economy: it’s not the stock market, it’s not Wall Street – it’s people.

Janet Yellen knows that our economy is built by Americans who know the dignity of a hard day’s work – whether you punch a clock or swipe a badge…

I remember in 2015, Chair Yellen came to Cleveland and toured the Alcoa plant.

That’s the kind of leadership we need, and the kind of leaders President Biden is putting into the top jobs managing our economy – people who will get out of Washington, people who will visit every sort of community in the heart of the country, and people who will act on what they learn from workers in places like Youngstown, Chillicothe, and Springfield.

There’s a lot more to our economy than a quarterly earnings report. Janet Yellen understands that.

And she will step into this job at a time when the contrast between the financial health of corporations and workers couldn’t be starker.

We’re in the middle of a public health crisis and an economic crisis.

You wouldn’t know it if you only looked at the stock market or corporate profits – but under President Biden, under Janet Yellen, and under new leadership in the Senate, we’re done measuring the economy that way.

We’re going to think about the economy the way workers and their families do – in terms of paychecks, and whether they can make rent or pay the mortgage this month, or afford child care, or pay for their prescription drugs.

And by those measures, people are hurting.

We hear a lot about what some people call the “K-shaped recovery” – that’s one way of saying the rich are getting richer, while the middle class and low-income families struggle.

It was already a problem before this virus, the pandemic has only made it worse, and it’s layered on top of systemic racism and inequalities that have been allowed to fester for too long.

We have a tax code that favors the wealthy, and that gives corporations a tax break when they move American manufacturing jobs overseas.

Americans’ hard-earned savings are at risk from the financial instability of climate change.

China is aggressive, confident, and continues to threaten American jobs.

The IRS wastes time and taxpayer money auditing working families, often Black and brown families, instead of going after rich tax cheats.

Wall Street rewards corporations that lay off employees, cut their pay, and treat their workers as expendable.

Risky behavior on Wall Street – like it did in the last crisis – can devastate communities in Ohio and around the country.

I have confidence that Janet Yellen understands these vast challenges – and that she’ll get to work immediately to take them on, and to create a better, more prosperous, more stable economy, centered on the Dignity of Work.

She knows that we can build new, cleaner infrastructure that puts people to work at good-paying union jobs.

We can invest in every community in the country, including the small towns and industrial cities and Black and brown communities that too often get left behind.

We can make it easier for people to afford housing and transportation and child care.

We can create a tax code that rewards work instead of wealth – starting with a dramatic expansion of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

We can give people more power over their own lives and their own money, with options like monthly distribution of the CTC and no-fee bank accounts.

That’s the vision Janet Yellen and Joe Biden and Senate Democrats are committed to – one where the middle class is growing, and everyone has the opportunity to join it.

And Janet Yellen has the experience, the talent, and the commitment to service to deliver results.

She is the right person for these tumultuous times, and she will rise to meet this moment, to help our country build back better.