Yellen downplays inflation fears amid Biden's $1.9T stimulus bill

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen downplayed fears of inflation as the Biden administration pushes a $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.

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"As treasury secretary, I have to worry about all of the risks to the economy, and the most important risk is that we leave workers and communities scarred by the pandemic and the economic toll that it's taken, that we don't do enough to address the pandemic," Yellen told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

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"I've spent many years studying inflation and worrying about inflation, and I can tell you, we have the tools to deal with that risk if it materializes," she continued. "But we face a huge economic challenge here and tremendous suffering in the country. We've got to address that. That's the biggest risk."

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during a virtual roundtable with participants from Black Chambers of Commerce across the country to discuss the American Rescue Plan, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, from the South Court Auditorium on the White House comp ((AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin))

Yellen said she expects the U.S. to return to "full employment" in 2022 if the stimulus package passes. Both chambers of Congress on Friday adopted a resolution that would allow Democrats to use budget reconciliation rules to pass the plan with a simple majority rather than the 60 votes that are normally required in the Senate.

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"It is very clear our economy is still in trouble," President Biden said last week. "I know some in Congress think we’ve already done enough to deal with the crisis in the country. Others think that things are getting better and we can afford to sit back and either do little or do nothing at all. That’s not what I see. I see enormous pain in this country. A lot of folks out of work. A lot of folks going hungry."

Biden's comments came as the Labor Department reported that employment rose by just 49,000 last month, a lackluster start to the new year as coronavirus and restrictions implemented to curb its spread continued to weigh on businesses. The unemployment rate edged down to 6.3%.

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FOX Business' Jonathan Garber and Megan Henney contributed to this report.

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