Biden urges GOP to end blockade on his Fed picks

Saul Loeb/Pool, via AP

President Biden ramped up pressure on Republican senators to end a blockade on his Federal Reserve nominees as the central bank prepares to start a series of interest rate hikes meant to cool rising prices.

During his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Biden urged senators to “confirm my nominees to the Federal Reserve, which plays a critical role in fighting inflation,” as he pitched his economic agenda to lawmakers.

Biden in January renominated Fed Chair Jerome Powell to lead the central bank and chose Fed Governor Lael Brainard to serve as vice chair. The president also nominated former Fed board member and deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin as vice chair of supervision, and economists Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to fill two vacant seats on the Fed board last month.

All five nominees have been stalled for weeks after Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee boycotted a vote held to advance their nominations to the full Senate. The Senate cannot vote to confirm the Fed nominees until the Banking panel holds a vote on them, leaving Biden’s nominees in limbo.

Republican senators blocked the vote on Biden’s Fed picks over what they alleged were incomplete and misleading answers from Raskin about her work history. While she was likely to get unanimous opposition from Republicans over her views on climate-related financial risks, GOP senators have pledged to block Biden’s entire slate unless Democrats delay the vote on Raskin.

“Important questions about Ms. Raskin’s use of the ‘revolving door’ remain unanswered largely because of her repeated disingenuousness with the Committee,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in a statement announcing the boycott last month.

“Until basic questions have been adequately addressed, I do not think the Committee should proceed with a vote on Ms. Raskin,” he added.

The White House and Democratic senators have accused Republicans of jeopardizing the U.S. economy with a political stunt and hindering the Fed’s ability to fight inflation.

“This is a very extreme step that’s totally irresponsible in our view. It’s never been more important to have confirmed leadership at the Fed to help continue our recovery and fight inflation and obviously they have a unique role to play, an important, a vital role to play as it relates to inflation. I think Democrats and Republicans have agreed on that for decades,”White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in February.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the chairman of the Banking Committee, also said Raskin has adequately addressed Republican concerns about her work history with answers to more than 180 questions from GOP senators submitted after her confirmation hearing.

“They’re now objecting to voting on a nominee because they don’t like the answers she provided. It’s just a delay tactic,” Brown said.

Tags biden administration Biden nominees biden picks biden sotu biden state of the union Jen Psaki Jerome Powell Joe Biden Pat Toomey Sherrod Brown State of the Union
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