Finance

Manchin to oppose Biden Fed pick over climate stances

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Monday that he will not vote to confirm President Biden’s pick for a powerful position on the Federal Reserve Board over her criticism of the fossil fuel industry.

In a Monday statement, Manchin said he opposes Biden’s nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin to serve as the Fed’s vice chair of supervision because of his “concerns about the critical importance of financing an all-of-the-above energy policy to meet our nation’s critical energy needs.”

Raskin, a former Fed governor and Treasury Department deputy secretary, urged financial regulators and banks to pay closer attention to climate-related financial risks for years before Biden chose her to be the Fed’s regulatory chief. She had also warned against making investments in fossil fuel projects and companies, noting the environmental risks and financial volatility within the sector, and opposed the Fed giving emergency loans to fossil fuel companies during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

While Raskin said throughout her confirmation hearing that she would not use the Fed to steer funding away from oil and gas production, Manchin said the views on energy-related financial matters will cost her his support.

“Now more than ever, the United States must have policy leaders and economic experts who are focused on the most pressing issues facing the American people and our nation – specifically rising inflation and energy costs,” Manchin said. 

“The time has come for the Federal Reserve Board to return to its defining principles and dual mandate of controlling inflation by ensuring stable prices and maximum employment. I will not support any future nominee that does not respect these critical priorities.”

Manchin told reporters Monday afternoon he informed the White House and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) of his decision last week. He also called Raskin “a wonderful person” but “I just couldn’t get there.”

Without Manchin’s vote, Raskin would need the support of at least one Republican senator to be confirmed by the upper chamber. Democrats narrowly control the Senate with 50 members plus the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Harris. Manchin’s opposition will also bolster a Senate GOP blockade of Raskin’s nomination on the Senate Banking Committee, which has snarled her and four other Fed nominations.

In a Monday statement, White House called Raskin “one of the most qualified people to have ever been nominated” to the Fed and said they were still working to get her confirmed despite Manchin’s opposition.

“She has earned widespread support in the face of an unprecedented, baseless campaign led by oil and gas companies that sought to tarnish her distinguished career.  We are working to line up the bipartisan support that she deserves, so that she can be confirmed by the Senate for this important position,” said deputy Biden press secretary Chris Meagher in a statement.

Even so, Raskin is likely facing insurmountable obstacles at every level of the confirmation process.

Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee blocked a preliminary vote on all five of Biden’s Fed nominees last month over concerns about Raskin’s previous work with Reserve Trust, a Colorado-based financial services company given access to the Fed’s payment system.

Republican senators say Raskin has failed to answer basic questions about whether she used her former position within the Fed to help Reserve Trust receive Fed approval to use national payment rails after the Federal Reserve of Kansas City rejected a previous application. Both the Kansas City Fed and Reserve Trust say Raskin did not manipulate the approval process, but rather advised the company on how adjust its business model to clear Fed vetting.

GOP senators on Monday renewed their offer to allow votes on Biden’s other four Fed nominees, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell, if Brown agreed to hold Raskin’s nomination back. 

“As we’ve repeatedly said, Republican members of the Banking Committee are willing to vote on the other four Fed nominees. I hope Chairman Brown will immediately move forward with scheduling a vote for this week,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) ranking Republican on the Banking panel.

But a spokesperson for Brown said the chairman is still “working to move forward Ms. Bloom Raskin’s nomination with bipartisan support, as Ms. Bloom Raskin has earned twice before.”

—Updated at 5:39 p.m.

Tags biden administration Biden cabinet Biden nominations Biden nominees biden picks Climate change Fossil fuels Jerome Powell Joe Biden Joe Manchin Pat Toomey Sarah Bloom Raskin Sherrod Brown
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