Fed’s Brainard confirmation set to move step closer, others wait in wings

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington

(Reuters) – One of President Joe Biden’s key nominees to the Federal Reserve, Lael Brainard, is set to move a step closer to confirmation on Monday, with the possibility she and three other Fed nominees could be confirmed later this week.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to hold a cloture vote this afternoon at 5:30 pm ET (2130 GMT) on Brainard, a current Fed governor nominated to become the central bank’s vice chair.

A cloture vote on another Fed nominee, Michigan State University’s Lisa Cook, nominated to fill a vacant seat on the Board, could come as early as Tuesday.

If she and Brainard overcome the procedural hurdle, confirmation votes for them as well as Fed Chair Jerome Powell, renominated to his current position, and Davidson College dean of faculty Philip Jefferson, nominated to a vacant seat on the Board, would be expected later this week.

All are set to be confirmed, although Brainard and Cook’s vote will be narrower after they drew significant Republican opposition. Cook and Jefferson would join a central bank gearing up to more swiftly raise interest rates this year and begin to draw down its gargantuan balance sheet as it tackles 40-year high inflation.

The Fed raised interest rates in March for the first time in three years but they still remain low, currently in the target range of between 0.25% and 0.5%. Policymakers are expected to raise rates by a half percentage point at the Fed’s next policy meeting on May 3-4.

Cook would be the first Black woman to serve on the seven-member panel, and Jefferson would be the fourth Black man to serve, and the first person of color since 2006.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Andrea Ricci)