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Senate confirms Adriana Kugler as first Hispanic member of Federal Reserve Board

Senators approved three of President Joe Biden's nominees to the seven-member panel this week.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed the first-ever Hispanic American to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

On a 53-45 vote, senators approved the nomination of Adriana Kugler, who is Colombian American, to a 14-year term on the board.

The seven-member board oversees the Federal Reserve banks and implements U.S. financial regulatory policy, particularly around interest rates. Its members are appointed by presidents, subject to Senate confirmation, to serve staggered terms.

The confirmation comes as the Fed wrestles with high inflation and three large bank failures. Seeking to slow price increases, the Fed has raised its benchmark interest rate 10 times since March 2022 to its highest level in 16 years. Its chair has signaled a potential pause on interest rate hikes, but the board could face pressure to cut rates if a predicted recession occurs later this year.

Kugler, 53, is on leave from her job as a Georgetown University economist to serve as the U.S. representative to the World Bank. She was the Labor Department’s chief economist in the Obama administration.

Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, was a key advocate for the appointment of a Hispanic American to the board, voting against President Joe Biden’s nomination of Jay Powell last year for a second four-year term as chair to protest the lack of Latino officials at the Fed. 

In remarks before the vote, Menendez said the lack of Hispanic representation in the board’s 110-year history was “an affront to the 62 million Hispanic Americans who meaningfully contribute to our economy.”

“It is time for Latinos to be taken seriously as an essential part of our American family,” he said. “Never again should a Latino or Latina have to wonder if they can rise from humble beginnings to occupy seats of power.”

The Kugler vote was the third nomination for the board approved by the Senate this week. On Wednesday, the Senate voted 88-10 to confirm Governor Philip Jefferson, who joined the board in May 2022, to serve as vice chair. He is the second Black vice chair.

Governor Lisa Cook, who was originally confirmed in May 2022 for a term expiring on Jan. 31, 2024, will serve a full 14-year term following a 51-47 vote. She is the first Black woman to serve on the board.

“With the confirmation of these outstanding economists to the Federal Reserve, the American people can be confident that the Fed’s important mission remains in good hands, and it will continue working for them, not any partisan agenda,” Biden said in a statement.

With the confirmations, the board now consists of five Democratic and two Republican appointees: four by Biden, two by former President Donald Trump and one by former President Barack Obama.

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Categories / Economy, Financial, Government

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