The Senate confirmed Lisa D. Cook as governor of the Federal Reserve on Tuesday, making her the first black woman to hold that influential political post.
His confirmation came after Vice President Kamala Harris broke a 50-50 tie in the Senate, bringing the Biden administration one step closer to reshuffling the leadership team at the central bank.
Ms. Cook, an economist at Michigan State University who has researched racial disparities and labor markets, was nominated along with a list of other officials – the White House had the chance to fill two vacant governorships and elect a new president, vice president and vice president of supervision of the central bank.
Lael Brainard, President Biden’s pick for Fed Vice President, is the only one of his Fed nominees who had already been confirmed.
Mr. Biden also nominated Philip N. Jefferson, an academic economist and trustee at Davidson College, and re-nominated Jerome H. Powell as Fed chairman. His initial nominee for Fed vice chairman of supervision, Sarah Bloom Raskin , was withdrawn from consideration amid Republican and Democratic opposition. Michael S. Barr was most recently nominated for the position and is still awaiting a nomination hearing.
If those additional candidates are confirmed, Biden will have nominated or renominated five of the seven Fed governors. The Fed is independent of politics, so those appointments are the main way the White House can shape the future of monetary policy, which is used to keep inflation stable and employment high.
The governors of the Fed board in Washington constantly vote on monetary policy and oversee the largest banks in the country. They set interest rates to guide the economy in conjunction with 12 regional reserve bank presidents, five of whom have voting rights at any given time.
The Fed is now battling stubbornly high inflation, and Biden’s board candidates are likely to stick to the course the central bank has already begun charting. The Fed raised interest rates at its March meeting and made an even bigger rate hike at its meeting last week. It will also imminently start reducing its balance of bond holdings in a bid to boost long-term interest rates and further slow the economy.
By making money more expensive to borrow, the Federal Reserve is trying to reduce spending and hiring, which could allow inflation to moderate over time as supply catches up with demand. During their hearings, all of the nominees made it clear that they were committed to reducing high inflation.
“High inflation is a serious threat to a long and sustained expansion, which we know raises the standard of living for all Americans and leads to broad-based shared prosperity,” Ms. Cook said during her testimony. “That is why I am committed to keeping inflation expectations well anchored.”
Ms. Cook has a doctorate in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. She has a history of mentoring younger economists, including through the American Economic Association Summer Program, which aims to increase diversity in the field of economics.