Senate confirms Powell as Fed chair

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WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly confirmed Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve Board chair by a vote of 85 to 12, ensuring a smooth transition when current Chair Janet Yellen’s term expires Feb. 3.

Powell was appointed to the Fed board of governors in 2012 to an unexpired term and reappointed in 2014 for a term expiring in 2028. His term as chair will expire in February 2022.

Powell "has served as a steady voice and a thoughtful leader” at the Fed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a floor statement before bringing Powell’s confirmation up for a vote.

Powell has been viewed as a consensus candidate who would bring both continuity at the Federal Reserve while also considering post-crisis regulatory reforms consistent with policies supported by the Trump administration. Powell has dedicated much of his previous tenure to advancing the central bank’s payments system, and staked out a position on cryptocurrencies long before they were grabbing headlines.

Some Senate Democrats have been vocal in their opposition to Powell’s nomination, however. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts was the only member of the Senate Banking Committee to vote against his nomination, saying that his proposals for loosening post-crisis rules amount to a giveaway to the biggest banks.

“Our financial rules for big banks need to be stronger, not weaker, and I have no faith that Gov. Powell will move the Fed in that direction,” Warren said ahead of the Senate Banking Committee's vote to approve Powell in December.

But the banking panel's top Democrat, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, supported Powell’s confirmation, saying that he “played a significant role in implementing crucial reforms under Dodd-Frank."

“His track record over the past six years shows he is a thoughtful policymaker,” Brown said.

Powell's confirmation came after Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee lobbed sharp questions Tuesday at President Trump's other nominee to the Fed board, Carnegie Mellon University economist Marvin Goodfriend.

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Monetary policy Jerome Powell Federal Reserve FOMC