The US Senate on Tuesday approved US President Donald Trump’s selection of Jerome Powell to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve beginning next month.
US senators voted 84-13 to confirm Powell to lead the nation’s central bank, a post that is considered the most powerful economic position in government.
Powell is to succeed Janet Yellen, the first woman to lead the Fed, when her term ends on Feb. 3.
Trump decided against offering Yellen a second four-year term as chair, despite widespread praise for her performance since succeeding Ben Bernanke.
Powell, 64, has served for five-and-a-half years on the Fed’s board. A lawyer and investment manager by training, he will be the first Fed leader in 40 years without an advanced degree in economics.
Many expect him to follow Yellen’s cautious approach to interest rates.
Powell, viewed as a centrist, enjoyed support from Republicans and Democrats.
The 13 senators who voted against Powell’s nomination included four Republicans, eight Democrats and US Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who votes with the Democrats.
The vote total was initially announced as 85-12, but US Senator Dianne Feinstein received permission to change her vote to no after the initial count had been announced.
One of the dissenters, US Senator Elizabeth Warren, said she was concerned that Powell “will roll back critical rules that help guard against another financial crisis.”
However, Senator Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, praised Powell’s tenure on the central bank board.
“His track record over the past six years shows he is a thoughtful policymaker,” Brown said.
During the presidential race, Trump was critical of the role the Fed played in implementing the Dodd-Frank Act, the 2010 law that tightened banking regulations after the 2008 financial crisis.
Trump and many Republicans in Congress contended that the stricter regulations were too burdensome for financial institutions and were a key reason why economic growth since the Great Recession ended in 2009 had been lackluster.
Powell has signaled that he favors ways to make bank regulations less onerous, especially for smaller community banks.
Educated at Princeton University with a law degree from Georgetown, Powell spent many years in investment management — at Dillon Read and then at the Carlyle Group.
His work there made him one of the wealthiest figures to serve on the Fed board: His most recent financial disclosure form places his wealth at between US$19.7 million and US$55 million — and based on how government disclosures are drafted, his wealth may actually be closer to US$100 million.
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