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Senate confirms Christopher Waller to Fed board

Senate confirms Christopher Waller to Fed board
© Greg Nash

The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Christopher Waller to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, adding another moderate Republican who favors low interest rates to the central bank.

Waller, executive vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, was confirmed by a 48-47 vote. He was recommended for confirmation in July by the Senate Banking Committee in a 18-7 vote — a much wider margin — with five Democrats joining all Republicans in support of his nomination.

Despite his past bipartisan support and uncontroversial stances, Waller will join the Fed board with the smallest proportion of votes of any member in its history. Fed nominations were once largely apolitical but became increasingly divisive over the past decade amid the polarization of Congress.

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Waller will serve the balance of a 14-year term vacated by former Fed Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin that began in February 2016. The Fed board has sole authority over its regulation and supervision of U.S. banks and is part of the larger Fed committee that sets interest rates and other monetary policy measures. 

Waller’s confirmation makes him President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE’s fourth addition to the Fed and leaves just one of the board’s seven seats vacant. 

Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida, Vice Chairman of Supervision Randal Quarles and Governor Michelle Bowman were also nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate. Trump also nominated Fed Chairman Jerome Powell to his current position in 2017 after he was appointed as a governor by former President Obama.

Waller fits in well with Trump’s previous successful nominees, who are all regarded as mainstream, moderate Republicans with a preference for low interest rates and looser financial regulation. But four of Trump’s past picks for the Fed were derailed by Republican senators, and it is unclear if his pick for the last vacant board seat will be confirmed as well.

Trump nominated Waller alongside Judy Shelton, a former campaign adviser who has been widely criticized for her inconsistent and unorthodox views on monetary policy. The Senate failed to advance her nomination in a vote last month, leaving her with an unlikely and unprecedented path to confirmation.

--Updated at 1:25 p.m.