Lisa Cook one step closer to Fed board seat after Senate vote

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Banking Committee holds hearing for Federal Reserve nominees on Capitol Hill in Washington

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Tuesday advanced President Joe Biden’s nomination of economist Lisa Cook to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, clearing a key procedural hurdle after the Senate Banking Committee had deadlocked over her appointment.

The vote to discharge Cook’s nomination from the hands of the Senate panel now allows a final confirmation vote to occur in the evenly divided Senate. The resolution passed on a 50-49 party-line vote, with Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, not appearing in the chamber to cast a ballot.

It was not immediately clear when the Senate would proceed to a final vote on Cook, who would become the first Black woman to serve as a Fed governor. The Senate must also vote on three other nominees to the Fed, a slate that includes Jerome Powell for a second term as central bank chair.

The two others under consideration include Fed Governor Lael Brainard, whom Biden has sought to promote to be the Fed’s vice chair, and Philip Jefferson, an economist and the dean of faculty at Davidson College in North Carolina, for a vacant seat on the seven-member Board of Governors.

Earlier this month, Republicans on the Senate banking panel refused to endorse Cook, an economics professor at Michigan State University, but the Democratic leadership in the chamber invoked a little-used parliamentary maneuver to advance her nomination.

The banking committee had voted in favor of the other three with substantial bi-partisan majorities.

Biden’s nominee to be the Fed’s vice chair for supervision, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her name from consideration after Republicans on the banking committee blocked a vote on her appointment and a key Senate Democrat signaled he would not support her. The White House has not yet nominated a replacement for that position, the country’s most powerful bank regulator.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Katharine Jackson; Editing by Dan Burns and Paul Simao)

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