Senate approves nominations of Stein, Powell to fully staff Fed Board of Governors

Jeremy Stein

The U.S. Senate confirmed the appointments of investment banker Jerome Powell and Harvard economist Jeremy Stein to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors on Thursday.

The Senate approved Powell’s nomination in a 74-21 vote and Stein’s nomination in a 70-24 vote, marking the first time since April 2006 that the Fed’s panel will function at full capacity, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The White House anticipated that pairing Stein, a Democrat, and Powell, a Republican, would better encourage Senate approval. Though the Senate Banking Committee approved the duo’s appointments last March, opposition to Fed policies by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) prevented immediate, full Senate confirmation.

Vitter said on Thursday that Stein and Powell “clearly also support the current direction of Chairman [Ben] Bernanke and the Fed, and for that reason, I cannot support the nominations,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Powell, a former employee of investment bank Dillon Read & Co. and private-equity firm Carlyle Group, served as undersecretary of finance to the U.S. Treasury and helped to lead the government investigation of Treasury securities following the 1991 auction bidding scandal.

Stein, who once interned at the Fed’s Division of International Finance, has spent a majority of his career in academia. Even though Stein has advocated for higher capital standards for banks, several Wall Street institutions endorsed the nominees.

“[Thursday’s] broad bipartisan vote in the Senate reflects their deep knowledge of economic and monetary policy, as well as their distinguished backgrounds and unique experience,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expressed disappointment in the nominees and said that he would have preferred nominees that focused more on price stability.

“These two nominees candidly do not represent the kind of more hawkish position that I would like to see the Federal Reserve take where they’re concerned about price stability over the long haul,” Corker said, adding that the nominees, however, were qualified for the Fed board, The Wall Street Journal reports.

There is no precise date yet as to when Powell and Stein will be sworn in to the Fed board.

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