After weeks of delays in part due to partisan obstructionism, the United States Senate has confirmed the nomination of Federal Reserve board of governors member Lael Brainard to be the next vice chair of the central bank.
In a 52-43 vote on the Senate floor on Tuesday, U.S. lawmakersBrainard to be vice chair of the Federal Reserve for four years, potentially beyond her term as a governor ending in January 2026. Brainard was one of four nominees waiting for approval since Republican lawmakers in the Senate Banking Committee which would have sent the prospective Fed vice chair’s nomination to the full Senate.
In addition to Brainard, the Senate will likely soon vote on the nominations of prospective Fed chair Jerome Powell, who has been serving as chair pro tempore since February, as well as economists Philip Jefferson and Lisa Cook as Fed governors. Former Obama administration official and law professor Michael Barr is also awaiting approval from lawmakers following President Joe Bidenfor Fed vice chair for supervision in April.
During a January confirmation hearing, Brainard said Congress would ultimatelywhether to move forward with a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, adding the Fed would welcome the legislative body “taking a very important role” in updating the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and digital assets. She has previously spoken in favor of the U.S. issuing a CBDC, but about “legal and regulatory safeguards” for cryptocurrencies.
The Federal Reserve, in addition to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, oversees many of the regulations covering digital assets in the United States. Many of the Fed vacancies were the result of terms expiring and board members resigning — seven members sit on the board of governors when fully staffed, which has not happened in roughly ten years.
As with Brainard, Powell, Barr, and Jefferson would need more than 50 votes to confirm their nomination with the full Senate. Vice President Kamala Harris was absent from the Senate floor on Tuesday, likely because shepositive for COVID-19. With Harris unable to act as a tie-breaking vote, her absence has reportedly a vote on Cook’s nomination to sit on the Fed’s board of governors.