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Yellen says she never urged for adopting a smaller COVID-19 relief package

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Yellen says she never urged for adopting a smaller COVID-19 relief package © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen looks on during a U.S. House Committee on Financial Services hearing on the Annual Report of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S. May 12, 2022. Graeme Jennings/

By Kanishka Singh and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she never urged for the adoption of a smaller COVID-19 relief package, rebutting a media report in which a biographer was quoted as claiming that she asked officials to scale back the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan by a third.

“I never urged adoption of a smaller American Rescue Plan package, and I believe that ARP played a central role in driving strong growth throughout 2021 and afterwards,” Yellen said in a statement on Saturday.

Bloomberg on Friday quoted an advance copy of a biography on Yellen, written by journalist Owen Ullmann, who said that she was worried that “too much government money was flowing into the economy too quickly.” The book is due out on Sept. 27.

Yellen’s concern about inflation “is why she had sought without success to scale back the $1.9 trillion relief plan by a third early in 2021 before Congress passed the enormous program,” Ullmann wrote, according to the copy cited by Bloomberg.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was a pandemic relief package, passed by Democratic majorities in Congress and signed into law a year ago. It was a signature achievement of U.S. President Joe Biden’s first year in office.

In her statement on Saturday, Yellen added that high inflation was now the Biden administration’s “top economic priority.” She said earlier this week that she was wrong in the past about the path inflation would take.

“We are committed to addressing it (inflation) by respecting the independence of the Federal Reserve and giving them the space to act. We are also using policy tools we have to address supply side bottlenecks and urging Congress to act to lower some of the high costs facing Americans, in areas such as prescription drugs,” Yellen said on Saturday.

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