Fed nominees sit for confirmation hearing

(Feb. 4, 2022) Three nominees for seats on the Federal Reserve Board sat before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday to face questions on their nominations to the agency leadership.

Sarah Bloom Raskin, vice chairman for supervision and member designate, Lisa DeNell Cook, member designate, and Philip Nathan Jefferson, member designate all testified at the hearing. All three were nominated to the seats just two weeks ago by President Joe Biden (D).

Of the three, Raskin is generating the most chatter, largely in opposition from Republican senators. A former member of the Fed Board, and a deputy Treasury secretary, she has been confirmed by the Senate twice before on voice vote, the most recent in 2014. However, Raskin has been forthright in her support of financial regulation’s role in dealing with climate change; some of the senators see no role for a financial regulator in that area.

If confirmed for the board seat – and the position as vice chair for supervision, a separate vote – Raskin would be just the second person to hold the job. The first was Randal Quarles, who stepped down last month from his seat on the Fed Board – after his four-year term as supervision vice chair ended in October. He had sat on the board since 2017.

Raskin is also a former Maryland state regulator and the spouse of U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). During the hearing, she reflected on her time as a state regulator in 2008, calling bankers in her state “my indispensable partners.”

Also during the hearing Thursday, Raskin faced questions about her past positions and writings on climate change (particularly on bank lending to oil and gas companies). She did tell senators, however, that “it is inappropriate for the Fed to make credit decisions and allocations,” and that “banks choose their borrowers, not the Fed.”

Cook, who is African American, also heard criticism from Republican senators for her views on racial inequality and use of Federal Reserve policy to address those issues.