Senate confirms Philip Jefferson to Fed board with broad bipartisan support

The Federal Reserve Building on Constitution Avenue in Washington is seen Aug. 2, 2017, in Washington. The Federal Reserve said Monday, May 9, 2022 that Russia’s war in Ukraine and surging inflation are now the greatest threats facing the global economy, supplanting the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Senate on Wednesday voted to confirm Philip Jefferson, a vice president and economics professor at Davidson College, to a seat on the Federal Reserve Board by an overwhelming bipartisan margin.

Senators voted 91 to 7 to approve Jefferson’s nomination to join the Fed board, making him President Biden’s second addition to the central bank.

The Senate narrowly approved Michigan State University economics professor Lisa Cook’s nomination to the Fed board Tuesday, with Vice President Harris casting the tiebreaking vote after senators deadlocked 50 to 50 along partisan lines.

Jefferson has spent decades studying and researching monetary economics at universities and as an economist for the Fed board. He is also an adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and taught at Columbia University, the University of California, Berkeley and Swarthmore College before joining Davidson in 2019.

Jefferson’s lengthy academic record and lack of involvement in politics won him the support of the vast majority of senators, making him Biden’s most popular pick for the Fed board. He was approved unanimously by the Senate Banking Committee in April.

Jefferson will be just the fourth Black man to sit on the Fed board since its creation in 1913. He and Cook — the first Black woman to be confirmed as a Fed governor — will also be the first Black Fed governors to serve concurrently.

The Senate has now confirmed three of Biden’s Fed nominations, including Fed Governor Lael Brainard’s promotion to serve as vice chair of the Fed board. The Senate approved her nomination last month, but Brainard has not yet been sworn in as vice chair and is still serving as a governor.

The Senate is also expected to cement Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s renomination to lead the central bank for another four-year term as soon as Thursday. While Powell faced more opposition than Jefferson, he is also likely to be confirmed by a wide bipartisan margin.

Jefferson and Cook will join Powell, Brainard and Fed Governors Michelle Bowman and Christopher Waller on the board once they are sworn in, filling all but one of the board’s vacant seats. The Senate is yet to hold a confirmation hearing for Michael Barr, Biden’s nominee to serve as Fed chair of supervision, who will fill out the seven-person Fed board if confirmed.

Tags Biden Jerome Powell Lisa Cook Philip Jefferson

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