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Senate confirms Lisa Cook as the first Black member of the Federal Reserve Board

Republicans waged a racist smear campaign to depict Cook as an "unqualified" hire and derail her nomination. They failed.


On Tuesday, a narrow Senate vote along party lines led to the historic confirmation of Lisa Cook, who will be the first Black woman to serve on the Federal Reserve’s powerful board of governors. 

Cook, a renowned economics professor with expertise in international relations, will be one of seven presidential appointees tasked with implementing the United States’ monetary policy. With her confirmation, the Federal Reserve will be adding an astute mind who’s shown consideration for the ways racial and gender inequality relate to monetary policy.

As I wrote in February when Cook’s confirmation hearings began, Republicans likely targeted her with racist invective specifically because of her expertise and interest in helping uplift marginalized groups. 

The GOP ran the same playbook it ran against Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court nomination, aiming to tank Cook’s appointment by discounting her record and trotting out insults meant to stereotype her as an unqualified affirmative action hire.

Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., called Cook “fundamentally not qualified” to serve. 

Conservative columnist John Cochrane wrote that Cook could only be considered qualified “if the job is to bring the Administration and progressive supporters’ racial policies to the Fed.” 

Peter Navarro, one of former President Donald Trump’s disgraced former advisers, claimed Cook would be a “race-based appointment” to the board.

“Professor Cook is more qualified to coach an NFL team than manage what may be a looming collapse of our economy from a perch at the Fed,” said Navarro, whose White House communications are of interest to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

Republicans are broadly invested in denying the reality of social inequalities. Attacks on school lesson plans and workplace diversity trainings are the perfect encapsulation of the party’s aversion to truths about the disparate ways institutions in the United States function. And when it comes to the economy specifically, the GOP is currently railing against the Biden administration over inflation and (looking at you, Sen. Rick Scott) proposing conservative fiscal policies — from tax increases to the elimination of social programs — as solutions. 

Cook is an expert whose work has focused on finding more equitable solutions. For that, Republicans waged a racist — and now, demonstrably futile — smear campaign against her.