WASHINGTON — The US Senate Thursday confirmed two Obama administration nominees to the board of the Federal Reserve after Republicans kept them on hold since December.
The confirmations of economist Jeremy Stein and investment banker Jerome Powell will bring the Fed’s board up to full strength of seven governors for the first time since 2006.
Opposition to President Barack Obama’s nominees kept the board of the world’s most powerful central bank staffed with only five governors throughout the financial crisis.
Republicans have said they do not want more allies on the board for the current Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, whom they frequently attack for keeping monetary policy too soft in league with the Democrat-led White House.
Three of the current five board members were named by Obama; two, including Bernanke, were appointed by Republican President George W. Bush.
The confirmations Thursday came after Senate leaders finally were able to overcome a single Republican senator’s procedural block on the votes since last year.
It also came a week after JPMorgan Chase, the largest US bank by assets, revealed a $2 billion loss incurred in derivatives trading over just six weeks that raised questions about the adequacy of bank regulation and oversight.
As well as being a central bank the Fed is also a market regulator.
The White House said it was pleased that the Senate finally confirmed the two men on Thursday.
“Today’s broad bipartisan vote in the Senate reflects their deep knowledge of economic and monetary policy, as well as their distinguished backgrounds and unique experience.
“At this important time for our economy we are grateful that Mr. Powell and Dr. Stein will serve the American people in these critical positions.”