Yellen Defends Biden as ‘Extremely Effective’ in Long Meetings, Including With China’s Xi

(Bloomberg) -- US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said her boss President Joe Biden has been “extremely effective” in lengthy meetings, defending him in response to questions Tuesday about his mental acuity.

Most Read from Bloomberg

“The president is extremely effective in the meetings that I’ve been in with him,” Yellen said at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee in Washington. “That includes many international meetings that are multi-hour,” including sessions with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders, she said.

Biden’s last in-person meeting with Xi was in California in November, which lasted about four hours. They spoke again by phone in April, days before Yellen’s own visit to Beijing.

Yellen was responding to a question from Mike Lawler, a New York Republican, who asked whether she had noticed any signs of mental or cognitive decline in the president.

The Treasury chief said she wouldn’t comment on her meetings with Biden because “those are private,” and said in response to a follow-up question that there have been no discussion among Cabinet members about invoking the 25th amendment of the US Constitution, which allows for the removal of the president due to disability.

Biden’s health has been front and center of US politics since his faltering performance in a debate with Republican candidate Donald Trump late last month, which triggered calls from some elected Democrats and donors for the president to pull out of the race. Biden said this week he won’t step aside.

Lawler’s question triggered a brief argument during the hearing, which was scheduled to focus primarily on global economic issues. One lawmaker interjected that the Treasury chief is “not a doctor” and sought to get the comments struck from the record. Republican member Blaine Luetkemeyer, the chairman of the committee’s panel on national security, then warned such questions weren’t appropriate.

Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York, tried to pivot to criticism of Trump, criticizing his “bromance” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which drew another reprimand from Luetkemeyer.

(Updates with context on Biden-Xi meetings in third paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.