US Senate confirms economist Philip Jefferson to Fed board

Philip Jefferson speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, DC, U.S., February 3, 2022. The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to confirm Philip Jefferson, economist and dean of the faculty at Davidson College, at the Federal Reserve Board.

Ken Cedeno | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The US Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to confirm Philip Jefferson, an economist and dean of the faculty at Davidson College, to the Federal Reserve Board.

Jefferson’s nomination was approved by a 91-7 vote, with all noes coming from Republicans. He is the fourth black man to serve as governor of the US central bank. His term runs until 2036.

On Thursday, lawmakers are expected to give Jerome Powell a second term as Fed chairman, though that confirmation vote is likely to be weaker.

However, this vote will amount not only to an endorsement of his handling of the pandemic crisis and the devastating 2020 recession that marked his first term, but also of the string of steep interest rate hikes he began in March to fight high inflation for decades. who wastes his second.

Jefferson was confirmed a day after Vice President Kamala Harris cast a tiebreaker vote in the Senate to confirm another of President Joe Biden’s Fed nominees, Michigan State University’s Lisa Cook.

She is the first black woman to become a Fed Governor. Two black governors have never served simultaneously on the Fed’s board.

For Jefferson, the confirmation marks a bit of a homecoming: His first job after graduating from Vassar College in New York State was as a research assistant at the Fed.

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Before taking his current post at Davidson College in North Carolina, he taught economics for more than two decades at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, and before that at Columbia University in New York. He has published research on monetary policy and has written extensively on wages, poverty and income distribution.

The seven-member panel will still be one seat short of its full complement.

Earlier this month, Biden announced he would appoint former Treasury official Michael Barr as vice chairman of Fed oversight. His first choice for the job, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her name after opposition from Republicans and a Democrat denied her the confirmation path.

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