Lisa Cook Confirmed As First Black Woman On Federal Reserve Board

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The Senate Banking Committee deadlocked on advancing Cook to the floor in a 12-12 vote. In order to get her confirmed, the full Senate had to instead vote to discharge her nomination out of committee ― which passed along party lines in late March.

Democrats tried to move Cook forward on the floor last month, but they didn’t have enough votes to overcome opposition because of the absence of two senators who had contracted COVID-19.

In March, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the committee’s ranking member, said Cook “has nearly zero experience in monetary policy” and “appears to have no opinion at all on how the Fed should address inflation.”

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Many other members of the Fed ― including ones supported by Republicans ― have had little to no experience in monetary policy. And monetary policy expertise is not a requirement to be on the board.

Jerome Powell, the current Fed chair, for example, is a lawyer who was a partner at the private equity giant The Carlyle Group. Michelle Bowman, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, worked in the banking industry and the federal government. She has a law degree as well as a bachelor’s in journalism and advertising.

Daniel Tarullo, who served as a Fed board member from 2009 to 2017, was also a lawyer. And in a speech at the Brookings Institution a few months after he stepped down, he admitted that he was far from an expert on monetary policy when President Barack Obama nominated him.

In April, Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (Ohio) said Republicans should be “ashamed” by their opposition to Cook.

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“Twelve out of 12 [Republicans in committee] voted against Lisa Cook, saying she’s not qualified ― Truman scholar, Marshall scholar, I believe, too, Ph.D. from Berkeley, graduated from Spelman, teaches at Michigan State,” Brown said. “We see a habit, a consistent pattern of that. So we get no help from them to fill out the Federal Reserve. It’s been 109 years, and seven people on the Federal Reserve at one time, and not one African American woman ever. They should be ashamed.”

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Biden has also nominated Philip Jefferson, who is also Black and is an economics professor at Davidson College. If he is confirmed, the Fed will have more than one Black person on the board of governors for the first time in its history. Democrats are also waiting to confirm Powell to another term as board chair.

Jefferson received unanimous support from the Banking Committee, while Powell had only one senator ― Warren ― in opposition.

Republicans ― along with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) ― blocked one of Biden’s other Fed nominees, Sarah Bloom Raskin, over concerns that she advocated for the Fed to be more proactive in addressing the financial risks posed by climate change.

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