U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet participated in confirmation hearings for two of President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominees Tuesday, delving into issues of childhood poverty and intelligence security related to outer space.
As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, Bennet, D-Colo., questioned Janet L. Yellen, Biden’s pick for Treasury secretary. If confirmed, Yellen would be the first woman to hold the position.
“I have immense respect for the task before this committee: rebuilding the American economy from its sharpest downturn in history,” Yellen said in her opening statement. “If I’m fortunate enough to be confirmed, I would strive to be a good partner in that work.”
In a hearing that largely focused on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Bennet asked Yellen about childhood poverty and a possible expansion of the child tax credit, which was included in the Biden administration’s COVID-19 relief plan.
“We have a crisis in our country because so many of our children are growing up in poverty,” Bennet said during the hearing.
Expanding the child tax credit has been on Bennet’s agenda for years. He and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced their American Family Act first in 2017 and again in 2019 in an effort to improve the child tax credit and decrease childhood poverty.
“Childhood poverty is way too high in America, and one of the best ways that we can reduce that is providing refundable child tax credit at a level that really makes a dent in that,” Yellen said.
Yellen agreed with Bennet that childhood poverty is a pressing issue and said she would explore some of the possible solutions Bennet proposed.
Bennet expressed his support for the nominee in a tweet after the hearing:
“@JanetYellen is an exceptionally well-qualified nominee whose leadership at @USTreasury will be essential to help pull our country out of this once-in-a-century crisis.” Bennet said in the tweet. “She should be confirmed immediately.”
Bennet also participated in Avril Haines’ confirmation hearing with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Haines, who was confirmed Wednesday by the Senate for director of national intelligence, formerly worked as the White House deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration, and she was the first female deputy director of the CIA.
Throughout Haines’ confirmation meeting, senators raised issues such as rising competition with China, the role of social media in cyber threats and the threat domestic terrorism poses to national intelligence.
Bennet raised the issue of outer space being a future intelligence concern. Haines agreed that the intelligence community should continue to focus on potential threats that a growing presence in space provides to national intelligence.
Space has been a subject of importance to Bennet, specifically in the past few days since President Donald Trump announced Jan. 13 that the U.S. Space Command headquarters would move from Colorado to Alabama, a decision that drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans in Colorado. Shortly after the decision, Bennet tweeted that he did not think the choice was best for America’s “ability to confront threats in space.”
In Haines’ confirmation hearing, Bennet also brought up the U.S.’s competition with China, a growing global competitor.
“I look forward to working with (Avril Haines) to reestablish US global leadership,” Bennet said in a tweet after the hearing.
Grace George is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.