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Janet Yellen Required to Testify: Skips Congress Hearing

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EDITOR NOTE: Since the early 1940s, there have been two positions regarding small businesses in America. The first position reflects capitalism at its purist: let them engage their respective market the way they do. As long as they’re not doing anything that infringes upon any other person’s freedom or rights, allow them to compete the best they can. The second position entails the government’s intervention and interference in private small businesses. There’s a relief valve that was created so as to lessen the burden of intervention or increase the virtue-signaling that makes government coercion a more palatable act. This relief comes in the form of the House Small Business Committee and Yellen being required to testify. Only recently, as in the last month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen opened up a third space: one that says that the government is going to move forward with its agenda and the House Small Business Committee is a mere afterthought. Despite being under fire from both sides of the partisan fence her refusal to testify in front of this committee is perhaps one of the most sincere acts of all. It’s pure government action without the virtue signaling, and without the hypocrisy. We may not agree with it. But who can’t respect the blunt honesty of her refusal?

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is under fire from Democrats and Republicans alike for skipping an appearance before the House Small Business Committee required by law.

According to the $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill Congress passed in December, Yellen and Small Business Administrator Isabel Guzman are required to testify before both chambers’ committees on small business to help oversee the disbursement of aid.

House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., announced Wednesday that Yellen was a no-show.

“Unfortunately, Treasury Secretary Yellen has declined to appear before us in complete disregard for the law, which requires her to do so,” Velazquez said. “While she and her team may believe their role in PPP and other small business Covid relief programs is dwindling as we move towards economic rebirth — they are sorely mistaken.”

The Treasury Department checked in with its legal counsel prior to Wednesday’s hearing over whether Yellen herself had to attend, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC.

Velazquez’s complaint was echoed by ranking Republican member Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri.

“While I am glad we will be having a conversation with Small Business Administrator Guzman, I am deeply disappointed and concerned that Secretary Yellen is not with us today, as the appearance of the Treasury Secretary is required by law,” he said in prepared remarks.

Guzman appeared before the House committee on Wednesday.

Velazquez and fellow lawmakers had hoped to question Yellen given Treasury’s significant role in instituting the nearly $1 trillion Paycheck Protection Program, more directly managed by the SBA. Her failure to attend also comes in contrast to former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s appearances before the body during President Donald Trump’s term.

Asked to explain why Yellen would not appear before the House committee, the Treasury Department offered CNBC this statement: “Secretary Yellen looks forward to continuing robust congressional engagement and will testify before Congress several times within the next month, including tomorrow. We will continue to work with Congress to coordinate the scheduling of as many hearings as possible.”

That Yellen — a longtime public servant and well liked by both parties as former Federal Reserve chair — would skirt a statutory obligation is striking. The bipartisan scolding for her absence is also notable given the Biden administration’s stated effort to work closely and foster relations with all members of Capitol Hill.

A person familiar with the tensions between Yellen and the House Small Business Committee said that lawmakers had initially accepted the Treasury Department’s offer to make Deputy Secretary Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo available as a substitute, but that the committee later reversed itself.

A second person who spoke to CNBC countered, and said that while Treasury had pitched Adeyemo as an alternative, it was never confirmed by the committee.

That may be due to the text of the December 2020 Covid-19 relief bill, which explicitly requires both the Treasury secretary and the SBA administrator to testify before the House and the Senate no later than 120 days after the enactment of the law.

Yellen is scheduled to appear before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government on Thursday.

Original post from CNBC

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