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Table of Contents

Senate Confirms Powell For Second Term as Fed Chair

Gets another four years as Fed chair by vote of 80-19

Jerome Powell has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a second four-year term as Federal Reserve Board (FRB) chair. The vote was 80-19 on May 12, 2022. Powell has been serving as acting chair since February 2022, when his previous term expired. His new term as chair expires in 2026, and his existing term as a member of the FRB extends until 2028.

Three of President Joe Biden's four other nominees for positions on the FRB were confirmed previously: Lael Brainard, Lisa DeNell Cook, and Philip Nathan Jefferson. The nomination of Michael Barr as a member of the FRB and as its vice chair for supervision is scheduled to be considered during a hearing by the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on May 19, 2022.

Key Takeaways

  • The U.S. Senate voted 80-19 on May 12, 2022 to give Jerome Powell another four years as Fed chair.
  • Three other Biden nominees for the Fed already have been confirmed: Lael Brainard as vice chair, along with Lisa DeNell Cook and Philip Nathan Jefferson as Fed board members.
  • Michael Barr's nomination as a Fed board member and as vice chair for supervision will be considered during a U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing on May 19, 2022.

Senators Pro and Con on Powell

Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio and chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, said of Powell during the floor debate: "He's been a steadfast defender of the Federal Reserve's independence, resisting unprecedented attacks by former president Trump to politicize the Fed. He played an instrumental role in stabilizing our economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. He's been a reliable voice and a steady hand through this crisis."

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, voted against Powell. She previously criticized Powell's loosening of bank regulations, calling him a "dangerous man" to lead the Fed during a September 2021 hearing. 

Of the 80 votes in favor of Powell, 43 came from Democrats, 36 from Republicans, and one from independent Senator Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with the Democrats. The 19 votes against Powell came from 13 Republicans, five Democrats, and one independent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who also caucuses with the Democrats. Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, the ranking member (i.e., senior committee member from the minority party) of the Senate Banking Committee, did not vote.

Prior Votes on Other Biden Fed Nominees

Lael Brainard was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as vice chair of the FRB on April 26, 2022. Already a member of the FRB with a term expiring on Jan. 31, 2026, her four-year term as vice chair also ends on that date. The vote was 52-43. Voting for her were 43 Democrats, the two independents who caucus with the Democrats (Sanders and King), and seven Republicans. All 43 nay votes came from Republicans. Five Democrats did not vote.

Lisa DeNell Cook was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a member of the FRB on May 10, 2022. She fills an unexpired term that ends on Jan. 31, 2024. The vote was 51-50, with the deciding vote cast by Vice President Kamala Harris. All 50 Republicans voted nay.

Philip Nathan Jefferson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a member of the FRB on May 11, 2022. His term expires on Jan. 31, 2036. The vote was 91-7. The 91 yea votes included 47 Democrats, the two independents who caucus with the Democrats (Sanders and King), and 42 Republicans. All seven nay votes came from Republicans. One Democrat and one Republican did not vote.

Article Sources
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  2. Roll Call. "Senate Confirms Powell to Second Term as Fed Chairman."

  3. U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. "Nomination Hearing, May 19, 2022."

  4. United States Senate. "Vote Summary, Nomination Number PN1529."

  5. United States Senate. "Vote Summary, Nomination Number PN1679."

  6. United States Senate. "Vote Summary, Nomination Number PN1680."