Republicans block vote on Fed nominees

February 17, 2022|Written by David Clarke|Federal Reserve

A confirmation vote on President Biden’s five nominees to the Federal Reserve has been delayed after Republicans chose not to participate. Members of the Senate banking committee were due to cast their votes on Tuesday, and it is now unclear if and when the process will take place.

The nominees include current Fed chair Jerome Powell and would be vice-chairs Lael Brainard and Sarah Bloom Raskin. Republicans on the committee, led by Senator Toomey, have explained their decision by saying they want more information about Raskin’s past role on the board of a fintech company. They have also previously sought to portray Raskin as wanting to use Fed powers to limit the financing of fossil fuel companies, something she has repeatedly denied.

The Democrats on the committee, who make up half of its membership, had been expected to vote in favour of all five nominees. The matter would then have proceeded to a vote on the Senate floor. But a majority of members must be present in order for the committee to conduct its business, and with 12 Republicans absent, chair Sherrod Brown was forced to postpone the vote.

If the five nominees eventually take up their posts, they are expected to oversee a stepping-up of the Fed’s actions to address climate-related financial risks. Powell recently said he intends the Fed to issue climate risk guidance and integrate climate considerations into monetary policy. He has also said that climate stress scenarios would be “a key tool going forward”.

Toomey proposed that the committee could vote on the four nominees except Raskin, but chair Brown was adamant that the whole slate should be considered as originally planned. He dismissed the suggestion that Republicans required further information from Raskin, saying that she had fully answered more than 180 follow-up questions from Republican senators following her confirmation hearing.

It is unclear how the matter will be resolved, but White House spokesperson Jen Psaki has said that the Biden administration will work with Senator Brown on a path forward for the nominations.

This page was last updated February 18, 2022

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