EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is leading Republicans who are demanding Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testify before the Senate's small business panel as inflation reaches historic heights.
Paul, who serves as the ranking member on the Senate Small Business Committee, led a letter to Yellen Thursday, signed by the Republican members of the panel, asking that the secretary fulfill her legal requirement to testify, especially as rising inflation is greatly impacting Americans nationwide.
The letter was sent the day before new inflation numbers were released by the Labor Department Friday, revealing that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price for everyday goods, including gasoline, groceries and rents, rose 8.6% in May from a year ago. It marks the fastest pace of Inflation since December 1981.
"It’s clear that Secretary Yellen is blatantly ignoring a legal obligation to testify before the Small Business Committee, despite the fact that we’ve been more than willing to accommodate her schedule. Apparently, she – and the rest of the Biden administration – evidently believe they are above the law, and are unbothered that Americans and businesses everywhere are grappling with a 40-year-high inflation rate of 8.6% that is only bound to get worse amid the Biden administration’s economic incompetence," Paul told FOX Business in an exclusive statement Friday.
The senators and Yellen have gone back and forth regarding her requirement to testify many times over the last several months.
Most recently, the department's assistant secretary for legislative affairs, Jonathan Davidson, told senators the agency had determined that the deputy secretary could legally fulfill the requirement in place of Yellen.
However, the senators took issue with that determination in their letter Thursday, writing: "The law is clear. The Secretary is required to testify and this duty is not delegable. Therefore, the Deputy Secretary is not authorized to satisfy your legal obligation to testify before the Committee."
The Republicans point to a provision mandated in the Economic Aid Act, which states that the "Secretary of the Treasury shall testify before the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship of the Senate."
In response to the letter, the Treasury Department told FOX Business that it continues to defend its delegation of the deputy secretary to fulfill the testimony requirement under law.
A Treasury Department spokesperson told FOX Business Friday that Yellen has "robust engagement" with Congress and that the deputy secretary would still fulfill the requirement to testify specifically before the Small Business Committee.
"Secretary Yellen looks forward to continuing her robust engagement with Congress, which has included testifying over dozen times before the House and the Senate, and as recently as this week before the Ways and Means and Finance committees."
"The Deputy Treasury Secretary has legal authority to fulfill this requirement to testify before the Small Business Committees, and he has already agreed and offered to appear before the Committees. We hope the Committees will allow him to appear to testify on this work."
FOX Business' Megan Henney contributed to this report.