Jun 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Raimondo views talk of replacing Yellen as a distraction

Gina Raimondo puts her finger in the air

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on April 27. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo is privately frustrated at the bubbling speculation that she’s angling to replace Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary after the midterm elections, according to Commerce officials.

Driving the news: With Democrats bracing for big losses in November, some lawmakers and party operatives are anticipating a potential post-election Cabinet shakeup. The depths of the losses will determine the extent of the shakeup.

The big picture: Inflation is running hot, bedeviling Biden in public polling. Yellen, a former Fed chair, admitted last week that she was "wrong" on her inflation forecasts, leading some Democrats to put her atop the list of possible departures.

  • Yellen has given no signs that she intends to leave.
  • Throughout the spring, most conversations on who might depart have taken place in private — but they're increasingly cropping up in public and in some news reports.

Between the lines: Raimondo, who was confirmed by the Senate 84-15 and has cultivated close ties with CEOs in New York and across the country, is viewed as a potential alternative on both Wall Street and Capitol Hill.

Why it matters: Raimondo views the chatter as a distraction to getting the so-called China bill, which includes more than $50 billion for the semiconductor industry, passed by Congress.

  • Different versions of that legislation have cleared the House and Senate, but officials are concerned that time is running out to reconcile all the differences, depriving President Biden of a potential bipartisan achievement.
  • "People need to get better hobbies," a Commerce official told Axios. "The Secretary's been clear from Day 1 that she’s not interested in other jobs and we’d all be better served if people found better ways to spend their time."

Be smart: Any Cabinet shake-up has to consider who controls the Senate — and who can be confirmed — after the elections.

  • Changes at the White House are much easier to execute.
  • Yellen, like Presidents Obama's and Trump's first Treasury secretaries, could stay the first four years.
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