POLITICS: PennAve

Senate confirms two Federal Reserve nominees

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The Senate confirmed two candidates to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors Thursday afternoon, bringing the total number of board members to five just one week before the central bank's next monetary policy meeting.

Next week's meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee will be the first since January in which presidential appointees will outnumber regional bank presidents among the members who will be voting on the decision about the country's monetary policy.

The Senate voted 61-31 to approve the nomination of Lael Brainard, a former Obama Treasury official. It also approved the nomination of current governor Jerome Powell, a Republican, for a second term, 67-24.

With Tuesday's votes, in addition to last month's installation of former Bank of Israel chief Stanley Fischer, the board is now just two members short of a full complement of seven. The board has not been filled during Obama's presidency.

The Senate also voted to approve Fischer as vice president of the Fed. The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law also requires that the Fed board include a second vice president for financial supervision, but Obama has not nominated a candidate for that position. Governor Daniel Tarullo, the other member of the board and the head of the Fed's committee on financial regulation, "takes the lead" in directing the Fed's supervision of the financial sector, Yellen said in February.

With several members of the Senate, Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen has said she is in favor of the president nominating a candidate with experience in community banking to the board. With Sarah Bloom Raskin leaving the Fed in March for a role in the Treasury Department and Elizabeth Duke resigning last year, the board has no members with a background in community banking.

Obama had nominated Fischer, Brainard and Powell in January. He has yet to propose any candidates for the remaining two spots.

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