President Biden Makes Three Nominations to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors

Sarah Bloom Raskin. (Photo from the Wall Street Journal)
Lisa Cook (Photo from Michigan State via the Wall Street Journal)
Philip Jefferson (Photo from Davidson College via the Wall Street Journal)

The terms of the seven members of the Fed’s Board of Governors are staggered with a new 14-year term beginning each February 1 of even-numbered years. That system of appointments was intended to limit turnover on the board with the aim of avoiding sudden swings in monetary policy. But because in practice board members often resign before their terms have expired and because presidents sometimes delay making appointments to empty positions, presidents sometimes face the need to make multiple appointments at the same time. In January 2022, President Joe Biden nominated the following three people—one lawyer and two economists—to positions on the board:

  • Sarah Bloom Raskin is the Colin W. Brown Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Law at Duke University. She served on the Board of Governors from 2010 to 2014 before resigning to become deputy secretary of the Treasury, a position she held until 2017. If confirmed by the Senate, she would serve as the board’s vice chair for supervision, becoming the second person to hold that position, which was established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. The vice chair for supervision has important responsibility in leading the Fed’s regulation and supervision of banks.
  • Philip Jefferson is the Paul B. Freeland Professor of Economics, vice president for academic affairs, and dean of the faculty at Davidson College. He received his PhD from the University of Virginia in 1990. He previously taught at Swarthmore College and served a year as an economist at the Board of Governors.
  • Lisa Cook is a professor of economics at Michigan State University. She received her PhD in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1997. She served on the Council of Economic Advisers from 2011 to 2012 during the Obama Administration. 

Before taking their positions, the three nominees must first be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. At this point, it’s unclear whether any of the three nominees will encounter significant opposition to their confirmation. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has raised some concerns about Raskin’s nomination, arguing that she:

“has specifically called for the Fed to pressure banks to choke off credit to traditional energy companies and to exclude those employers from any Fed emergency lending facilities. I have serious concerns that she would abuse the Fed’s narrow statutory mandates on monetary policy and banking supervision to have the central bank actively engaged in capital allocation.”

If confirmed, the nominees will join these other four board members:

  • Jerome Powell has been nominated by President Biden to a second term as Fed Chair that, if the Senate votes favorably on the nomination, would begin in February 2022. Powell was first nominated to the board by President Obama in 2011 and nominated by President Trump to his first term as chair, which began in February 2018. 
  • Lael Brainard was first nominated to the board by President Obama in 2014. President Biden has nominated Brainard to serve as vice-chair of the board. If confirmed, she would succeed in that position Richard Clarida who resigned in January 2022.
  • Christopher Waller was nominated by President Trump to a term on the board in 2020. He had previously served as director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. He received his PhD in economics from Washington State University and served as a professor of economics at Notre Dame University and the University of Kentucky. His term expires in 2030.
  • Michelle Bowman was nominated by President Trump to a term on the board in 2018. Bowman had served as the state bank commissioner of Kansas and as an executive at a local bank in Kansas. She has a law degree from Washburn University. She was reappointed to a full 14-year term in 2020. 

Sources: Senator Toomey’s statement on Sarah Bloom Raskin’s nomination can be found here.  An overview of the membership of the Board of Governors can be found here on the Federal Reserve’s website. An Associated Press article covering President Biden’s nominations can be found here.  

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