Washington — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed that economist Lisa Cook was elected by a black woman to the Federal Reserve Board for the first time in its 108-year history.
Her approval came by a narrow party vote of 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris having a decisive vote.
Senate Republicans have argued that she is unfit for the position, saying she doesn’t have enough experience with interest rate policy. They also testified before her Senate banking committee, suggesting that she wasn’t committed enough to combat her inflation..
Cook holds a PhD in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and has been Professor of Economics and International Relations at Michigan State since 2005. She also served as a staff economist on the White House Economic Advisory Board from 2011 to 2012. Advisor to President Joe Biden’s Transition Team on Fed and Banking Regulatory Policy.
Some of her best-known studies have focused on the effects of lynching and racial violence on African-American innovation.
Cook is only the second of five candidates Biden nominated by the Fed for Senate confirmation. His Fed choice faces an unusual level of partisan opposition given the Fed’s history as an independent institution that seeks to maintain supremacy over politics.
However, some critics accuse the Fed of contributing to increased scrutiny in recent years by addressing broader issues such as the role of climate change in fiscal stability and racial inequality in employment.
Former Vice President Joe Biden asked the Senate earlier on Tuesday that the Fed approve his candidate to fight inflation.
“I will never interfere with the Fed,” said former Vice President Biden. “The Fed has to do its part, and I am confident it will do its part.”
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has been serving on a temporary basis since his term ended in February. He was almost unanimously approved by the Senate Banking Committee in March.
Fed President Lael Brainard was confirmed 52-43 for the Fed’s influential Vice-Chairman two weeks ago.
Philip Jefferson, professor and dean of economics at Davidson University in North Carolina, was also nominated by Biden for governor and was unanimously approved by the Finance Committee. He will be the fourth black person to serve on the Fed’s board.
Biden tooFormer Treasury official, Fed’s top banking regulator since previous choice; West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.
Cook, Jefferson and Barr will join Brainerd as the Fed’s Democratic nominee. However, most economists expect the Fed to continue raising rates sharply this year.