Jerome Powell Moves Forward for Fed Chair Confirmation After Senate Banking Committee Vote

Powell has stressed importance of independence and nonpartisan status at the central bank

Chairman of the Federal Reserve nominee Jerome Powell / Getty Images
January 17, 2018

Today, the Senate Banking Committee voted to recommend Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve chairman. His nomination will next move for a full vote on the Senate floor.

If Powell is confirmed, he will replace sitting chairwoman Janet Yellen who took lead of the central bank in February 2014. Powell is a current member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, the policy-making arm of the central bank that makes decisions about monetary policy. Powell served as assistant secretary and undersecretary of the Treasury under former President George H.W. Bush.

President Trump nominated Powell for Fed Chair on Nov. 2, 2017, saying that he has three decades of business experience.

"Mr. Powell has demonstrated steady leadership, sound judgment, and policy expertise," a statement from the White House reads. "Mr. Powell will bring to the Federal Reserve a unique background of Government service and business experience."

On Nov. 28, 2017, the Senate Banking Committee held a confirmation hearing for Jerome Powell where he stressed the importance of preserving the independence and nonpartisan status of the Fed.

"If confirmed, I would strive, along with my colleagues, to support the economy's continued progress toward full recovery," Powell said. "Our aim is to sustain a strong jobs market with inflation moving gradually up toward our target. We expect interest rates to rise somewhat further and the size of our balance sheet to gradually shrink."

Powell has also been a critic of the Fed's bond-buying program, otherwise known as quantitative easing.

"I'm supporting (the decision) with a certain lack of enthusiasm, and I am somewhat uncomfortable with the road that we are on," Powell said at the Fed's September 2012 meeting. At that time, the Fed had decided to purchase $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities a month in an attempt to keep interest rates low.

After Powell's confirmation hearing, the Senate voted to approve his nomination on Dec. 5, but had to renominate him since they hadn't voted to confirm him before the Senate session ended.