Senate panel overwhelmingly approves Powell as Fed chair

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WASHINGTON — A Senate panel on Tuesday morning approved Federal Reserve Gov. Jerome Powell’s nomination to chair the Fed beginning early next year, putting President Trump’s pick one step closer to assuming one of the nation’s most important executive offices.

The Senate Banking Committee approved Powell’s nomination by a vote of 22-1, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., casting the lone dissenting vote. Powell’s nomination will go to the full Senate for confirmation, which could come by year’s end.

Warren said she was voting against Powell’s nomination because of his views on bank regulation, which she said needs to be strengthened rather than loosened. The problem of large banks being "too big to fail" remains unsolved, she said, despite Powell’s indications to the contrary in his confirmation hearing.

“Banks of all sizes made record profits last year — giant banks are wallowing in profits — and yet an army of bank lobbyists and executives have managed to convince Gov. Powell that financial rules are strangling banks and need to be rolled back,” Warren said. “There is no evidence to support this claim. 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.”

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., also said he had reservations about Powell’s nomination owing to “some of the issues” Kennedy raised during Powell’s confirmation hearing, though he did not specify. During that hearing, Kennedy accused Powell of participating in passing rules that regulated community banks “half to death” and pressed him on whether banks are still too big to fail.

“Before his vote comes to the floor, I look forward to discussing with him further some of the issues that I raised with him in our confirmation hearing,” Kennedy said. “I do not want my vote today to indicate that I will be an automatic ‘yes’ on the floor. I’m not suggesting I’ll be an automatic ‘no’ either, but some serious issues were raised ... and I look forward to exploring those further.”

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Interest rates Financial regulations TBTF Jerome Powell Elizabeth Warren Senate Banking Committee Federal Reserve