Senate confirms Obama’s Fed nominees
The Senate confirmed President Barack Obama‘s two nominees to the Federal Reserve on Thursday. Once the two new board members have been sworn in, the seven-member panel will, for the first time since April 2006, operate at its full capacity.
Towards the end of last year, President Obama chose 51-year-old Dr. Jeremy Stein, a Harvard economics professor, and 59-year-old Jerome Powell, a scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank. By choosing a Democrat, Stein, and a Republican, Powell, the president was hoping that his two nominees would be backed by the Senate. Yet, Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana delayed the vote after he said he wished to have a floor debate on the two men. The Senate Banking Committee eventually approved the two nominees in March.
“I am grateful that these individuals have agreed to serve their nation at this important time for our economy,” Mr. Obama said when he nominated them last year. “Their distinguished backgrounds and experience coupled with their impressive knowledge of economic and monetary policy make them tremendously qualified to serve in these important roles,” he added.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated that the vote indicated that the senators were aware of the caliber of the two men President Obama had selected. Dr. Stein’s nomination was approved in a 70-24 vote, while Mr. Powell was backed by 74 lawmakers, with 21 senators voting against his nomination.
“Today’s broad bipartisan vote in the Senate reflects their deep knowledge of economic and monetary policy, as well as their distinguished backgrounds and unique experience,” Mr. Obama’s press secretary emphasized.
Sen. Vitter later explained that he was unable to support the two men because they were likely to support Chairman Bernanke‘s below-inflation interest rate policy.
“They are very legitimate, strong concerns which I share on the current monetary policy of this Federal Reserve. It is very clear from the statements of these two nominees that these two nominees will support that policy, will support that direction for the foreseeable future, will not provide dissent, will not provide alternative viewpoints,” Sen. Vitter stated.
However, the Democrats insisted that the Board of the Federal Reserve needed to be fully staffed at a time when the economy was still going through turbulence.
“At this time when our economy is struggling to maintain forward momentum and the Federal Reserve is faced with difficult decisions about how to help the recovery without creating problems in the future, it’s critical we do not leave the Fed undermanned,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told his colleagues.
Dr. Stein and Mr. Powell are expected to be sworn in to the Federal Reserve Board in the near future.