Senate panel advances Biden Fed nominees to confirmation votes

The Senate Banking Committee advanced President Biden’s four remaining nominees to the Federal Reserve after one pick bowed out under bipartisan opposition.

The panel on Wednesday cleared Fed Chair Jerome Powell for a vote by the full Senate on his confirmation for another four-year term leading the central bank. Senators voted 23 to 1 to recommend his renomination, with only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) opposed.

The committee also advanced Fed Governor Lael Brainard’s nomination to serve as Fed vice chair by a vote of 16 to 8, along with the nominations of Michigan State University professor Lisa Cook and Davidson College professor Philip Jefferson to serve as Fed board members.

While Jefferson received unanimous support, senators voted 12 to 12 on Cook’s nomination, splitting along party lines. Under Senate rules, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) can still call up Cook’s nomination for a confirmation vote.

Biden’s nominees now head to the Senate, where they will need 51 votes to be confirmed and fill all but one vacant seat on the seven-person Fed board. Fed watchers expect all four to win confirmation, with Powell seen as a virtual lock for another term as chair.

The Banking panel advanced the nominees one day after Sarah Bloom Raskin, who Biden nominated to serve as vice chair of supervision, withdrew after Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.) announced they would note vote to confirm her.

Manchin specifically cited Raskin’s criticism of the Fed’s decision to give emergency loans to oil and gas companies, along with her views on how financial regulators should address climate-related risks. 

“I’m disappointed the American people have been denied a thoughtful, experienced public servant, who was ready to fight inflation and stand up for working families,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in remarks before the Wednesday vote. 

“I’m eager to get President Biden’s talent and qualified nominees to the Federal Reserve Board on the job.”

Republicans on the Banking Committee also blocked the panel from advancing all five of Biden’s Fed picks over concerns about Raskin’s previous work history. Every GOP member of the Banking panel boycotted a vote on the five Fed nominees after Brown refused to hold back Raskin’s nomination and allow senators to vote on the others separately. 

“While I know we will not agree on the case of Sarah Bloom Raskin, I hope something we could agree on is how important it is that challenging decisions that inevitably involve painful trade offs are decisions that should be made in a democratic society by people who are accountable to the vote,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), ranking member on the panel.

Cook is an economics professor who served in the White House Council of Economic Advisers under former President Obama. She’s held research and leadership roles at Harvard University and Stanford University and visiting appointments at several regional reserve banks. She is currently a member of the Chicago Fed’s advisory board. 

Jefferson, also the vice president for academic affairs at Davidson, was an economist for the Fed board and spent decades in several research and professorial positions. He is also an adviser to the Minneapolis Fed and former president of the National Economics Association.

If confirmed, Cook would be the first Black woman of color to serve on the Fed board since its creation in 1913. She and Jefferson together would be the first two concurrently serving Black members of the Fed board.

The panel also advanced Sandra L Thompson’s nomination to be director for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, who is also expected to be confirmed, by a vote of 13 to 11.

Tags Barack Obama Charles Schumer Elizabeth Warren Jerome Powell Joe Biden Joe Manchin Lisa Murkowski Pat Toomey Sherrod Brown Susan Collins
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