By Ali Zaslav
The US Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly confirmed Jerome Powell to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. The final vote was 80-19.
“Few institutions are more important to help steer our economy in the right direction and to fight inflation than the Fed,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer ahead of the vote.
He added that “Chairman Powell presided as Fed chair during some of the most challenging moments in modern American history.”
Under Powell’s leadership, the Fed ended its pandemic stimulus program, began to raise interest rates and announced the roll off of its massive balance sheet to fight the nation’s rampant inflation.
Powell, 69, was nominated in 2017 by former President Donald Trump to serve as head of the central bank, replacing Janet Yellen.
After serving out his four-year term in February, Powell had been acting as chair pro tempore after Republican lawmakers had blocked the confirmation process. At issue, was President Joe Biden’s pick for chair of supervision, Sarah Bloom Raskin, who many Republicans believed was overly focused on green energy and environmental issues at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to send fuel prices through the roof.
The Fed is expected to continue on its path of hiking rates throughout the year to curb demand and help prices cool off.
Raskin, a former Fed governor who was deputy Treasury secretary during the Obama administration, ultimately withdrew herself from consideration in March.
Powell’s confirmation was advanced in March with a 23-1 majority. Senator Elizabeth Warren, (D-MA) voted against Powell after voicing concerns about his proximity to Wall Street and actions that could “weaken” oversight of banks.
“Your record gives me grave concern. Over and over you have acted to make our banking system less safe. And that makes you a dangerous man to head up the Fed,” Warren told Powell during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in September.
During Thursday’s vote, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) voted against Powell, saying the Fed has “opted to continue the shameful 108-year legacy of Latinos being left out of the Federal Reserve’s leadership.”
Biden has pledged to reshape the Fed through diverse nominations for vacant seats. Economist Lisa Cook was confirmed as the first Black woman to serve on the Fed board earlier this week.
-CNN Business’ Anneken Tappe contributed to this report.
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