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Waters at Hearing with Yellen and Powell: We Must Ensure That There is a Sustained and Equitable Recovery

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following opening statement at a full Committee virtual hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s Pandemic Response.” 

I’d like to welcome Secretary Yellen and Chair Powell. 

I am very pleased that, with Democrats’ passage of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, help is now arriving for millions of struggling individuals, families and small businesses all across this country. The Biden plan delivers much-needed relief in the form of additional direct payments, expanded child tax credits, emergency rental and homeowner assistance, unemployment assistance, support for small and minority-owned businesses, as well as funding for other key programs. The American Rescue Plan is exactly what the nation needs in the midst of this ongoing crisis, and will help to put us on the path to a faster and more equitable recovery. 

I am also very relieved that we now have President Biden’s capable leadership in the White House, and that he is putting in place a team to ensure that the pandemic response and the implementation of relief programs is efficient, effective, and a top priority so that we can beat this deadly virus.

I would like to take a moment, as we prepare to receive testimony from Secretary Yellen for the first time in her role as Treasury Secretary, to acknowledge the historic nature of her appointment. Starting with Alexander Hamilton in September of 1789, the Department of the Treasury has exclusively been led by men until now. Over 231 years later, Secretary Yellen became the first woman to serve as Treasury Secretary. She is also the first person to serve as Treasury Secretary after serving as head of both the Federal Reserve and the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Secretary Yellen, we applaud you, and our Committee looks forward to continuing to work closely with you.

Secretary Yellen, I would also like to thank you for your work negotiating an increase in the Special Drawing Rights of $650 billion at the G7, as I have previously called for. This increase will help vulnerable countries to fight the pandemic and boost the United States and global economies. 

Chair Powell, I would like to thank you for following my recommendation on bank capital requirements and ending the temporary exemptions to the supplemental leverage ratio for big banks. We need to ensure the stability of our financial system during this continuing crisis, and strong capital requirements are the cornerstone of appropriate prudential bank regulation. 

While we are on the right path with the passage of the American Rescue Plan and the Biden Administration’s strong leadership, we still have a long road ahead of us. Millions of people are still out of work, and threats to the economy remain. We must ensure that there is, indeed, a sustained and equitable recovery from this historic crisis.  

So, I look forward to your testimony.

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