Senate confirms economist Philip Jefferson to the Federal Reserve
Philip Jefferson speaks during a Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing in Washington, DC, US, on February 3, 2022. The US Senate voted Wednesday by an overwhelming majority to confirm Philip Jefferson, economist and dean of Davidson College of the Federal Reserve.
Ken Sedno | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The US Senate voted Wednesday by an overwhelming majority to confirm that Philip Jefferson, an economist and dean of Davidson College, will join the Federal Reserve.
Jefferson’s appointment was approved by 91 votes to 7, with all votes no Republican. He is the fourth black man to hold the position of Governor of the US Central Bank. His tenure extends until 2036.
Lawmakers on Thursday are expected to give Jerome Powell a second term as Federal Reserve chair, although the confirmation vote is likely to be by a smaller margin.
However, this vote would amount not only to an endorsement of his handling of the pandemic crisis and the devastating recession of 2020 that marked his first term, but also of the round of sharp interest rate hikes he launched in March to fight decades-high inflation. This spoils a second.
Jefferson was confirmed a day after Vice President Kamala Harris cast the wrong vote on the Senate floor to confirm another presidential nominee for President Joe Biden for the Federal Reserve, Lisa Cook of Michigan State University.
She is the first black woman to become a governor of the Federal Reserve. No two black governors have ever served at the same time on the Federal Reserve.
For Jefferson, the assertion represents a return to his roots: His first job after graduating from Vassar College in New York state was as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve.
Before taking up his current job at Davidson College in North Carolina, he taught economics for more than two decades at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, and before that at Columbia University in New York. He published papers on monetary policy and wrote extensively on wages, poverty and income distribution.
The seven-member panel will still be one seat away from its full complement.
Earlier this month, Biden said he would nominate former Treasury official Michael Barr as the Fed’s vice president of supervision. His first pick for the job, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her name after Republican opposition and a Democrat denied her access to confirmation.