Senate takes key step toward confirming Quarles for Fed

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WASHINGTON —The Senate on Wednesday took a key step toward confirming Randal Quarles to serve as a governor of the Federal Reserve Board.

It voted 62-33 to invoke cloture to debate his nomination. The full Senate is scheduled to vote on his nomination on Thursday morning.

While Quarles, a managing director at the private equity firm Cynosure Group and a Treasury undersecretary in the George W. Bush administration, was also nominated to be vice chairman for banking supervision at the Fed, that is a separate vote that will come later. The vice chairman position, which was created by the Dodd-Frank Act, has never been filled.

Democrats have criticized Quarles’ time at Treasury during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on his nomination, citing the Bush administration's lack of foresight to see the housing crash, but he is viewed as a centrist who will look to streamline and simplify regulations rather than overhaul the 2010 financial reform law.

“One of the ways in which I think that on a clean slate financial regulation could be improved would to have a much simpler, clearer, less kaleidoscopic construction of the regulatory system that would make it easier for the regulators to understand where risk is and where it isn’t,” Quarles said during the July hearing.

Quarles is expected to help fill out a Fed board with three vacant seats and one more about to come. Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer is expected to step down later this month.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen endorsed Quarles during a press conference last month.

“I’ve had very good interactions with Randy Quarles and hope he will be confirmed. I look forward to working with him, and, you know, I hope that the administration will make other nominations to fill our slots,” Yellen said.

However, she said the empty seats won’t stop the Fed from continuing its work.

“I have full confidence that even if that happens, we will be able to carry out our complement of responsibilities,” she said.

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Financial regulations Law and regulation Dodd-Frank Randal Quarles Federal Reserve