After weeks of delays, caused in part by partisan filibusters, the US Senate has confirmed the nomination of Lael Brainard, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, as the next vice chairman of the central bank.
In a 52-43 vote in the Senate on Tuesday, US lawmakers confirmed Brainard as vice chair of the Federal Reserve for four years, possibly beyond her term as governor, which ends in January 2026. Brainard was one of four nominees who have since awaited approval. Republican lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee boycotted a February committee that would have sent the nomination of a potential Fed Vice Chairman to the full Senate.
In addition to Brainard, the Senate is likely to vote on nominations for future Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who has served as acting Chair since February, and economists Philip Jefferson and Lisa Cook as Fed Governors. Former Obama administration official and law professor Michael Barr is also awaiting lawmakers’ approval after President Joe Biden announced Barr in April as his pick for Fed vice chairman for oversight.
During a confirmation hearing in January, Brainard said Congress will ultimately have the power to decide whether to proceed with the creation of a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, adding that the Fed would welcome lawmakers’ role in the Updating the Regulatory Framework for Cryptocurrencies and Digital Assets He has previously advocated for the United States to issue a CBDC, but has also raised concerns about the “legal and regulatory safeguards” of cryptocurrencies.
The Federal Reserve oversees many of the regulations governing digital assets in the United States, along with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Many of the positions in the Federal Reserve are the result of term expiry and the resignation of board members. Seven members will serve on the Board of Governors when it is complete, which has not been the case for about a decade.
As with Brainard, Powell, Barr and Jefferson would need more than 50 votes to confirm their appointment with the full Senate. Vice President Kamala Harris was absent from the Senate Tuesday, likely because given COVID-19 test positive. With Harris unable to act as a tiebreaker, her absence would have delayed the vote on Cook’s nomination to the Fed’s Board of Governors.
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