Senate Banking Committee Advances Powell, Brainard, Jefferson, and Cook for Fed Board

Mar 23, 2022Federal Regulation, News

With Sarah Bloom Raskin withdrawing her nomination to serve as the Federal Reserve’s vice chair for supervision—the top Wall Street watchdog at the Federal Reserve—Republicans ended their boycott of the vote in the Senate Banking Committee, allowing the panel to approve President Biden’s remaining four Fed nominees. This includes Fed Chair Jerome Powell to a new term, Fed Governor Lael Brainard as vice chair, and economists Philip Jefferson and Lisa Cook as members of the board of governors. 

Powell was advanced by a vote of 23-1, Brainard was advanced by a vote of 16-8, Jefferson was advanced by a vote of 24-0, and Cook’s nomination was tied, although she will still be considered by the full Senate.

The nominees will join the Fed as it deals with the highest inflation in 40 years. Politico noted that earlier this month, Fed policymakers increased interest rates for the first time since 2018, and more spikes are expected this year.

Raskin withdrew her nomination after Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said they would not support her. President Biden said she was “subject to baseless attacks from industry and conservative interest groups” and noted that consumer advocates, economists, and former central bank officials supported her nomination. 

Raskin received strong opposition from Republicans with her recent advocacy for regulators taking a bigger role in mitigating financial risks due to climate change. Republicans argued that the Fed should maintain its narrower mandate of promoting full employment and price stability. 

Cook also received criticism from Republicans over the Fed’s role in fighting racial inequality. If confirmed by the full Senate, she will be the first Black woman to serve on the Fed board.

Jefferson will also be another Black voice on the Fed board. His work focuses on the “role of education as a buffer against unemployment, the effect of business cycles on poverty rates, and the distribution of income between labor and capital, according to his biography.

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