Senate advances Fed nominee Cook past committee deadlock

The Federal Reserve is seen from the Washington Monument on Friday, September 24, 2021.
Greg Nash

The Senate voted along party lines Tuesday to advance Michigan State University professor Lisa Cook’s nomination to the Federal Reserve Board after a committee deadlocked on her nomination earlier this month.

Senators voted 50-49 to move Cook along to full consideration to be confirmed for a seat on the Fed board of governors. All 50 Democratic senators voted to advance Cook, a former member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under former President Obama, while 49 Republican senators voted against her. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) did not vote.

Cook has also 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 Federal Reserve of Chicago’s advisory board. 

Cook’s nomination was held up in March after the Senate Banking Committee voted 12-12, also along party lines, on advancing her nomination to the full Senate. The panel approved Biden’s renomination of Fed Chair Jerome Powell, his nomination of Fed Governor Lael Brainard to be vice chair and the nomination of Davidson College professor Philip Jefferson to serve on the Fed board on March 16 but deadlocked on Cook.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) set up the Tuesday vote to advance Cook under a power sharing agreement struck when Democrats captured narrow control over a 50-50 Senate last year. 

All four of Biden’s Fed nominees are now within striking distance of confirmation, though it is not yet clear when the Senate will vote to cement the president’s picks. 

Both Powell and Jefferson are almost certain to be confirmed, and Brainard has already drawn bipartisan support. Cook, however, faces a narrow margin for confirmation in the face of unanimous Republican opposition.

Cook will need the support of all 50 Democratic senators to set up a tiebreaking vote on her nomination by Vice President Harris. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a pivotal moderate who may decide Cook’s fate, has not yet indicated how he will vote.

Manchin’s opposition to Sarah Bloom Raskin’s nomination to serve as Fed vice chair of supervision dashed her chances of her confirmation earlier in March. Senate Republicans had blocked on all of Biden’s Fed nominees to boycott Raskin’s nomination but relented after she pulled out of consideration.

Tags Barack Obama Charles Schumer Jerome Powell Joe Manchin John Kennedy

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