Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Friday that he would work with his successor on a transition but did not acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect.
“If things get certified, we’ll obviously work closely with whoever it is,” Mnuchin said on “Squawk on the Street.”
The ease of the transition has been a growing concern in Washington in recent weeks. Though major news networks, including NBC News, have declared Biden as the winner of the election, President Donald Trump has not conceded. Emily Murphy, administrator of the federal General Services Administration, has not signed off on letting the transition proceed, and Republicans are fighting legal battles in several states.
The failure to acknowledge Biden as the next president has received sharp criticism, including Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue. Biden has called Trump’s lack of concession an “embarrassment,” and some of his advisors have voiced concern about the lack of intelligence briefings or coordination on the response to Covid-19.
Mnuchin’s interview came after he sent a letter to the Federal Reserve telling the central bank that the Treasury Department will end support for some of the Fed’s emergency lending powers at the end of December. That timeline would end the programs just before the Biden administration is set to take control in late January.
Mnuchin said that criticism of the move was misguided and that “markets should be very comfortable that we have plenty of capacity left.”
Biden said Thursday that he has chosen his nominee to lead the Treasury Department and would announce the name around Thanksgiving. Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen and current Fed Governor Lael Brainard are two of the frontrunners, and either would be the first woman to hold the position.
When asked his opinion on Yellen potentially succeeding him, Mnuchin declined to comment, saying “it’s not appropriate” for him to speak on the subject.
Mnuchin also said he will meet with Republican congressional leaders on Friday to work toward a targeted economic relief bill before the end of the year.
With Covid spreading at record numbers, the Trump administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi never came to an agreement on a bill that could have been worth around $2 trillion, and it was unclear whether the Republican-controlled Senate would agree to a package of that size.