UPDATED: 4:00 p.m. ET, March 12, 2021 —
The first Black vice president of the United States swore into office the first Black woman to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers on Friday, keeping the streak alive for the number of historic firsts in President Joe Biden‘s administration.
“She will work to revive our economy, create good-paying job, and ensure equity,” Harris tweeted in congratulating Rouse on Friday.
The Senate on March 3 voted 95-4 in favor of Rouse’s confirmation, sealing her mark in history as the first Black person to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers. As Biden’s top economic adviser, Rouse will help the administration reverse course from the current economic decline, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of my priorities as chair will be to try to understand how policies will impact all in our country, as we strive to ensure the economy works for everyone,” Rouse said prior to her confirmation hearing.
Rouse will be returning to work at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for the third time over her career. She worked as a member of the council during the Obama administration and at the National Economic Council during Bill Clinton’s tenure as a special assistant to the president.
Being the chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers is far from inconsequential and will give the now-former Princeton University labor economist a role in helping to turn around the country’s coronavirus pandemic-stricken economy, something that remains at the top of Biden’s totem pole of priorities.
Rouse, 57, is also in the unique position of having White House experience under her belt, as she served as a member of President Barack Obama‘s Council of Economic Advisers from 2009 to 2011 as well as the National Economic Council under President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 1999.
Aside from working in the upper echelon of government, Rouse also boasts a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and is the dean and Lawrence and Shirley Katzman and Lewis and Anna Ernst Professor in the Economics of Education at Princeton University, where she is a professor of economics and public affairs, too.
Her father was one of the first Black people in American history to earn a Ph.D. in physics. As such, she has been a staunch proponent of diversity and inclusion and spoke out against racism at Princeton University and around the country. In an open letter this past June, Rouse drew upon her own experiences “As a black woman in a field where there are few” and challenged the university “to combat racism, injustice, and inequality.”
While a part of Clinton’s National Economic Council, Rouse helped to coordinate economic policy for that administration and even worked on an immigration bill.
But it was her stint as part of the Obama administration that likely endeared Biden to her. That was when she advised Obama on how to successfully dig America out of the Great Recession to historic proportions that saw the unparalleled job and economic growth that continued well into Donald Trump‘s presidency.
Rouse was also directly involved in Obama’s Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act that invested heavily in HBCUs. “It was one of the largest investments the federal government has made in these institutions which are so important to so many individuals,” Rouse said at the time.
According to Rouse’s bio on the American Economic Association website, when she was asked what her dream job would be, she responded, “I’ve got it!”
It seems she may need to revise that answer after Friday.