Brainard wins Senate confirmation to be Fed’s vice chair

Apr 26, 2022, 12:44 AM | Updated: 3:13 pm
FILE- In this June 14, 2018, file photo Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard participates i...

FILE- In this June 14, 2018, file photo Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard participates in an open meeting in Washington. The U.S. Senate on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 approved Brainard to a four-year term as vice chair of the Federal Reserve, elevating her to a top policymaking position in the midst of the central bank's toughest fight against inflation in four decades. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

(AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the nomination of Lael Brainard to a four-year term as vice chair of the Federal Reserve, elevating her to the Fed’s No. 2 post in the midst of the central bank’s toughest fight against inflation in four decades.

Her confirmation came in a 52-43 vote in the Senate, with seven Republicans and all Democrats who were present voting in favor. President Joe Biden had nominated Brainard in November.

The relatively close vote reflects the increasingly partisan atmosphere in Congress and nationally that is now engulfing the nomination process for the Fed, an independent institution that has sought to remain above politics. The last time that Brainard, a longtime Democratic official, came before the Senate in 2014, her nomination to the Fed’s Board of Governors was approved 61-31.

In another sign of the divide, a procedural vote on whether to consider Biden’s nomination of Lisa Cook, an economics professor, to a position on the Fed’s board, was voted down Tuesday on partisan lines, delaying a final Senate vote on her nomination.

The delay in considering Cook, who, if confirmed, would become the first Black woman to serve on the Fed’s board, prompted angry recriminations by senators from both parties, including statements suggesting racial bias by Senate Republicans.

“Republicans in my committee have a consistent record voting against Black women,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Democrat who leads the Senate Banking Committee.

Brown cited Republicans’ overwhelming opposition to the nominations of Sandra Thompson to direct the agency that regulates mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and to Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, the senior Republican on the committee, countered that it was “sad and shameful” to suggest “that there is some kind of racial bias against Black women” among Senate Republicans. Toomey noted that Republicans on the committee have voted in favor of five women of color, including Cecilia Rouse, one of Biden’s top economic advisers.

Biden and the Senate have struggled to fill three vacancies on the Fed’s seven-member board just as the central bank is grappling with the delicate challenge of raising interest rates enough to clamp down on inflation — but not so much as to plunge the economy into recession.

Brainard’s rise to a leading policymaking role follows an extensive career as an economic official during previous Democratic administrations. She was an adviser to President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s before becoming the top Treasury official for international affairs during President Barack Obama’s administration, from 2009 to 2013.

Brainard, 60, the lone Democrat on the board for now, has generally supported keeping interest rates low to support growth and hiring, which makes her a “dove” in Fed parlance. “Hawks,” by contrast, generally support higher rates to control inflation.

Three other Fed nominees are also awaiting confirmation for the Fed’s board, including Jerome Powell for a second four-year term as Fed chair. Powell has been serving in a temporary capacity since his first term expired in early February and has broad bipartisan support in the Senate.

In addition to Cook, an economics professor at Michigan State University, Biden has nominated Philip Jefferson, an economist and academic dean at Davidson College in North Carolina. If confirmed, Jefferson would be the fourth Black man on the board. Jefferson was endorsed unanimously last month by the Senate Banking Committee.

Cook has drawn nearly unified opposition from Senate Republicans, who argue that she lacks sufficient experience in researching interest rate policy. They have also expressed concern she isn’t dedicated to fighting inflation. During an earlier procedural vote in the Senate that was 50-49 in her favor, Cook needed every Democratic senator’s vote.

Brown sought Tuesday to delay a procedural vote on Cook’s nomination because two Democrats had tested positive for COVID and weren’t able to vote. Republicans objected, forcing the vote to proceed. The vote failed, 47-51, which means that Senate Democrats will have to try to confirm Cook later when all their members are healthy.

Cook, who earned a doctorate in economics from the University of California, Berkeley, was a staff economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisers from 2011 to 2012. She was also an adviser to Biden’s transition team on the Fed and bank regulatory policy.

Previously, Biden tapped Sarah Bloom Raskin as his choice to be the Fed’s top bank regulator. Raskin later withdrew from consideration after Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, lined up against her. Biden has since nominated Michael Barr, a former Treasury Department official, for that post. Brown said Tuesday that he hoped to hold a hearing on Barr as early as mid-May.

If confirmed, Cook and Jefferson aren’t likely to alter the Fed’s policymaking in the coming months, economists say, though they will help balance the hawkish views that now dominate the board. Fed governors often defer to the chair and are much less likely to cast dissenting votes at Fed meetings, in contrast to some of the regional bank presidents.

“Even the most dovish current members (of the Fed) are recognizing that inflation is so visibly too high, it’s a tax on households, it has to be dealt with,” said Ellen Gaske, lead economist at PGIM Fixed Income.

Many economists think the Fed will raise its benchmark short-term interest rate by a sharp half-percentage point at each of its next three meetings, in May, June and July, to try to rein in accelerating price increases.

Such rate hikes would be larger than the Fed’s typical quarter-point increases and would likely lead to higher borrowing costs for home mortgages, auto loans and credit cards. Those higher costs could, in turn, slow consumer spending and and weaken the overall economy.

Brainard was an architect of a Fed policy framework, adopted in August 2020, under which it said it would no longer raise rates solely because the unemployment rate had fallen to a low level that could spur inflation. Instead, the Fed said it would await actual evidence that prices are accelerating.

That framework has been blamed by some critics for contributing to the Fed’s delay in raising rates as high inflation erupted last year — an assertion disputed by Powell.

Brainard has also said the Fed could more directly take account of climate change in bank supervision, a stance that has drawn opposition from many Senate Republicans.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Hiring sign is displayed in Deerfield, Ill., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. The number of Americans fil...
Associated Press

More Americans apply for jobless benefits last week

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, but the labor market remains strong even in the face of persistent inflation and a slowing overall U.S. economy. Jobless claims for the week ending Oct. 1 rose by 29,000 to 219,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Last week’s number was revised down by […]
1 day ago
FILE - Cherelle Griner, wife of WNBA star Brittney Griner, speaks during a news conference in Chica...
Associated Press

Brittney Griner at ‘weakest moment’ in Russia, her wife says

WASHINGTON (AP) — WNBA star Brittney Griner is at her “absolute weakest moment in life right now” as she faces a hearing in Russia later this month for her appeal of a nine-year prison sentence for drug possession, Griner’s wife said in an interview aired Thursday. Cherelle Griner told CBS “This Morning” that her wife, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkey appoints new ambassador to Israel as ties warm

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey has appointed a new ambassador to Israel, the state-run news agency reported Thursday, in the latest step between the two countries’ efforts toward normalizing ties. Sakir Ozkan Torunlar, a senior diplomat who had served as Turkey’s consul general in Jerusalem between 2010 and 2013, was named to the post, Anadolu […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Sheriff: Dogs attack family in Tennessee, 2 children killed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Two young children were killed and their mother was hospitalized after two family dogs attacked them at their home in Tennessee, officials said. The dogs attacked a 2-year-old girl, a 5-month-old boy and their mother Wednesday afternoon in the home located north of Memphis near Shelby Forest State Park, the Shelby […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Austria, Hungary equipping Serbia to curb border crossings

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Austria and Hungary will help Serbia curb migrant crossings at its southern border, Hungary’s foreign minister said Thursday, citing an “explosion” in the number of people entering European countries without authorization in recent months. Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Hungary and Austria would supply Serbia with both equipment and personnel […]
1 day ago
Traders gather around a post as Twitter shares resume trading on the floor at the New York Stock Ex...
Associated Press

Hot inflation slows 3Q earnings growth forecasts

Wall Street expects the latest round of quarterly profits to show burn marks from the hottest inflation in four decades, and the damage could linger into 2023. Analysts have been trimming their forecasts, especially in the retail and communications sectors, as inflation drives up costs and saps consumer spending on everything from food to clothing. […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Brainard wins Senate confirmation to be Fed’s vice chair