Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, gave the following statement at a full Committee hybrid hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s Pandemic Response.”
Welcome back, Secretary Yellen and Chair Powell.
As this pandemic continues, the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats remain hard at work to provide protections and essential relief to individuals, families, and small businesses across the country. The emergence of the new Omicron variant shows us that this crisis is not over, and we must remain vigilant to protect our country and our families from the devastation of COVID-19.
Since Democrats have been in power, we have delivered for the American public. Democrats provided rental relief for struggling renters, provided 70,000 vouchers to address homelessness, provided support to state and local governments, and helped our nation’s restaurants. Democrats helped businesses reopen, prioritized vaccine distribution, and because of this work, 74.5 percent of individuals five years and older have received at least one shot. In fact, this Thanksgiving was the first time since the pandemic began that many of us spent time in person with our friends and families.
Under President Biden’s leadership, the economy has created 5.6 million jobs – more than any other Administration’s first nine months – and weekly jobless claims recently fell to 199,000, the lowest total in more than 50 years.
But our work does not stop at pandemic relief. We also enacted landmark bipartisan infrastructure legislation, an achievement that has eluded Republican and Democratic presidents alike for decades. Under President Biden, we now have the funding in place and the programs to finally rebuild and refit our nation’s bridges, roads, and railways, and bring broadband to millions. And soon the Build Back Better Act will make long overdue investments in the nation’s affordable housing infrastructure, childcare, education, and workforce. I hope that our Senate colleagues move quickly to send this bill to the President’s desk.
While these investments will be critical, the Fed’s unfinished objectives of full employment and price stability serve as a reminder that we must not leave anyone behind during this recovery. Chair Powell has identified supply chain bottlenecks and ongoing caregiving needs as two of the major barriers to continued economic recovery. Congressional Democrats have responded by passing bills that invest in childcare and help clear those bottlenecks.
It is crucial that the Fed hold off on declaring a premature victory on this economic recovery until the communities that have been hit the hardest—people of color, renters who fell behind on their rent, and women who have done the bulk of the caregiving—have a chance to experience the recovery. If we are truly to Build Back Better, we must ensure that people of color are represented in the Fed’s leadership; we must make sure that people’s caregiving needs are met, so that they can pursue new opportunities in education, clean energy, and more; and we must address the root causes of rising prices by investing in housing and supply chain resilience.
Secretary Yellen, Chair Powell, I look forward to discussing your ongoing work to respond to the pandemic.