Jerome Powell Sworn In for New Term as Fed Chair

New term as chair runs until May 15, 2026; term on Fed board runs until 2028

Jerome Powell was sworn in for a second four-year term as Federal Reserve Board (FRB) chair on May 23, 2022. FRB Vice Chair Lael Brainard administered the oath of office in the press briefing room of the FRB's Martin building.

Renominated by President Joe Biden in November 2021, the United States Senate confirmed Powell by a vote of 80-19 on May 12, 2022. His new term as FRB chair ends on May 15, 2026, and his term as a member of the FRB ends on Jan. 31, 2028.

Key Takeaways

  • Jerome Powell was sworn in to his second term as Fed chair on May 23, 2022.
  • This term runs until May 15, 2026.
  • His term as a member of the Fed's Board of Governors (FRB) runs until Jan. 31, 2028.

Powell's History at the Fed

Powell has served on the FRB since May 25, 2012, after being nominated by President Barack Obama to fill an unexpired term. He was renominated by Obama and sworn in on June 16, 2014, for a term ending on Jan. 31, 2028.

Powell first took office as FRB chair for a four-year term on Feb. 5, 2018, after being nominated for that post by President Donald Trump. That term expired on Feb. 5, 2022, but Powell continued as acting FRB chair after the Senate's vote on his confirmation was delayed by the opposition of all 50 Republicans, plus Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, to Biden's nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin as a member of the FRB and as its vice chair for supervision, a key banking regulatory post.

Trump Turns Against Powell

By October 2019, Trump was highly critical of Powell. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) had been cutting interest rates, but Trump wanted deeper cuts, tweeting that "people are VERY disappointed in" Powell and that "China is not our problem, the Federal Reserve is!"

By March 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis sent the U.S. economy into a sharp recession, Trump was "not happy with the Fed" because it was "following" and "we should be leading." Trump also claimed the right to remove Powell as FRB chair "and put him in a regular position and put somebody else in charge," but added, "I haven't made any decisions on that."

Contrary to Trump's assertions, the Fed moved swiftly to prop up the economy by cutting interest rates to near zero and injecting unprecedented amounts of liquidity into the markets.

Could Trump Have Fired Powell?

Since 2018, Powell has been a member of the FRB and its chair (each position separately appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate), as well as chair of the FOMC (as voted by its members).

To remove a member of the FRB, the president must have "cause," per the relevant statute. The courts historically interpreted this as "inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office," not policy differences. The statute says nothing, however, about whether the president can "fire" the FRB chair, effectively demoting him to be just another governor, but other presidents have concluded that they lacked that authority.

The most notable prior assault on the Fed's independence by a president came on Dec. 5, 1965. President Lyndon B. Johnson tried to pressure FRB Chair William McChesney Martin, Jr. into reversing a rate hike, but Martin held his ground and Johnson relented.

Article Sources
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  1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "Jerome H. Powell Sworn In for Second Term as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System."

  2. Investopedia. "Senate Confirms Powell for Second Term as Fed Chair."

  3. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "Jerome H. Powell, Chair."

  4. Investopedia. "Biden Picks Michael Barr as Fed Vice Chair for Supervision."

  5. Investopedia. "Despite GOP Boycott, Senate Banking Democrats Vote for Powell."

  6. CNBC. "Trump Rails Against Powell a Day After the Fed Cuts Rates for a Third Time This Year."

  7. The New York Times. "Trump Says He Could Demote Fed Chair Powell, Risking More Market Turmoil."

  8. Investopedia. "A Breakdown of the Fiscal and Monetary Responses to the Pandemic."

  9. The Brookings Institution. "What Happens if Trump Tries to Fire Fed Chair Jerome Powell?"

  10. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. "1965: The Year the Fed and LBJ Clashed."

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