Senate confirms Brainard, Powell for Fed seats, Fischer as vice chair

Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserve building in Washington.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Lael Brainard and Jerome H. Powell to serve on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, bringing it closer to full strength as the central bank pulls back on its extraordinary stimulus policies.

Senators also approved Stanley Fischer, confirmed to the Fed board just last month, to be the central bank’s vice chairman. The Fed’s No. 2 position, vacated by Janet L. Yellen when she became Fed chair this year, required a separate vote.

With the confirmations, the Fed board now has five members, two short of its full complement.

Brainard, a former Treasury Department official, probably will be sworn in before next week’s two-day Fed monetary policy meeting. All Fed governors serve on the policymaking Federal Open Market Committee, along with five of the 12 regional reserve bank presidents.


Powell’s confirmation doesn’t increase the board’s membership.

He has been a Fed governor since 2012, when he was appointed to fill the remainder of a term that expired on Jan. 31. He has continued to hold the seat while waiting to be reconfirmed to a full 14-year term.

A few weeks ago, as the nominees languished on the Senate calendar, the Fed board of governors was in danger of having just three members because of recent resignations.

The confirmation process has been slowed by Republicans, who generally have opposed the Fed’s efforts to stimulate the recovery from the Great Recession and financial crisis.


Brainard, who served as undersecretary for international affairs from 2010 until late last year, was confirmed 61-31. Thirty Republicans and one independent, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, voted against her nomination.

Powell, who was a Treasury official in the George H.W. Bush administration, received some more Republican support. He was approved 67-24.

Senators voted 63-24 Thursday to confirm Fischer, the former Bank of Israel head, as vice chair. The Senate had voted 68-24 on May 21 to confirm him to a board of governors seat, and he was sworn in on May 28.

That was the same day that Jeremy C. Stein stepped down from the board after announcing his resignation in April.

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