The Federal Reserve Board of Governors has been burdened by vacancies for the last six years. Last year, Fed obstructionism reached farcical levels when Senate Republicans killed Peter Diamond’s nomination to fill a Fed vacancy because he’s only the recipient a Nobel Prize in economics and an expert in unemployment. (The GOP said he lacked “qualifications.”)
Today, however, that changed.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed two nominees chosen by President Obama for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, overcoming Republican objections and bringing the seven-member board to full strength for the first time since 2006, before the economic crisis struck.
The Harvard economist Jeremy Stein and the investment banker and lawyer Jerome Powell were confirmed easily after a morning of debate. The vote for Mr. Stein was 70-24, and for Mr. Powell, 74-21.
Scandal-plagued, right-wing Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) had blocked both of the nominations for months, but as the Times report added, “[I]n the aftermath of JPMorgan Chase’s recently acknowledged trading losses, which have raised questions about whether the Fed and other regulatory agencies have a tight enough hand on the regulatory reins, Senate leaders found that there were enough votes to get around procedural obstructions under the Senate’s rules.”
It’s worth emphasizing that while both Stein and Powell are nominees of the Obama White House, they were also part of a compromise. While Obama’s predecessors didn’t have to accept such concessions, after Senate Republicans balked at the president’s previous nominees, Obama switched gears, nominating Stein, who worked briefly for the administration in 2009, as well as Powell, who worked for President George H. W. Bush, as well as the Carlyle Group, a GOP-friendly private equity fund.
In other words, today’s confirmations came after Obama effectively presented the Senate with a bipartisan pair of nominees – one who served in a Democratic administration and one who served in a Republican administration.
Nearly half the Senate GOP caucus opposed both nominees anyway, including the former Bush administration official.