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Biden nominates Powell for second term as head of Federal Reserve

The president nominated the current Fed chair for a second term and chose the sole Democrat on the central bank’s governing board to serve as vice chair.

WASHINGTON (CN) — President Joe Biden on Monday nominated Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for a second term leading the central bank and picked Democratic board member Lael Brainard to serve as second-in-command.

Powell, whose four-year term managing the American banking systems expires in February, is expected to run the Federal Reserve for another four years as it grapples with record-breaking inflation rates on consumer products and the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on employment.

First nominated to the Federal Reserve's governing body, the Board of Governors, by President Barack Obama, Powell later ascended to the top job after being nominated by President Donald Trump. He has garnered widespread bipartisan support from the start of his time in office and for his work during the pandemic.

Brainard, Biden's nominee to serve as vice chair, is the sole registered Democrat on the Board of Governors and was predicted by some to be a potential replacement for Powell due to her emphasis on the need to combat climate change and increase government regulations on banks.

"I'm elevating one of the country's most qualified and dedicated public servants. She's one of the nation's leading macroeconomists," Biden said of Brainard during a press conference at the White House on Monday.

The president acknowledged that some may be surprised by his decision to keep a Republican-appointed chair in charge of the Fed while nominating a Democrat to serve as second-in-command.

At this moment of both enormous potential and enormous uncertainty for our economy, we need stability and independence at the Federal Reserve," Biden said.

He praised Powell for his work steadying the economy throughout the pandemic.

"I know for a lot of Americans things are still hard, very hard, but if you look at all of the facts, you can only come to one conclusion: we've made tremendous progress in this country," Biden said.

The president also emphasized the need for the independent agency to exist outside of politics.

"I believe that having Fed leadership with broad bipartisan support is important, especially now in such a politically divided nation. I believe we need to do everything we can to take the bitter partisanship of today's politics out of something as important as the independence and credibility of the Federal Reserve. This is vital to maintain public trust in an independent institution," he said.

Powell also spoke at Monday's press conference and said his top priorities continue to be combatting inflation on consumer products and addressing the risks of climate change and cyberattacks on banking systems.

"We know that high inflation takes a toll on families, especially those less able to meet the higher costs of essentials like food, housing and transportation. We will use our tools both to support the economy and a strong labor market and to prevent higher inflation from becoming entrenched," Powell said.

Powell and Brainard's nominations now face a confirmation vote in the Senate. They are expected to win enough support among senators to be confirmed.

Biden said he will nominate more members to the Federal Reserve's board in the coming weeks, with an emphasis placed on candidates with "new perspectives and new voices."

"I also pledge that my additions will bring new diversity to the Fed, which is much needed and long overdue in my opinion," he said.

Emphasizing a focus on stability at the central bank, he expressed optimism at the direction of the U.S. economy.

"As economies all across the world come back from this pandemic, America is leading the way," Biden said.

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