The U.S. Federal Reserve System, or the Fed, is the country’s central banking system. It was created by Congress in 1913. The Fed helps manage the economy in a variety of ways. It sets interest rates to manage price inflation and also helps to manage the amount of money in national circulation. The Federal Reserve is led by a seven-member Board of Governors. Each Board of Governors member serves a fourteen-year term. These members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Though President Biden’s appointees have been slow to be confirmed by the Senate, he recently made an historic addition to the Board of Governors.
On May 10, 2022, the Senate confirmed Dr. Lisa Cook to serve on the Fed’s board of governors. Cook is an economist with a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley. She previously was a professor of economics and international relations at Michigan State University. There her research focused on policies that help level the economic playing field for minorities and women. She was a staff economist on the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama. Cook was also an economic adviser to President Biden’s transition team. Cook is the first African American woman to serve on the Fed’s Board of Governors.
Cook was confirmed in the Senate by a 51 to 50 vote. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the deciding vote. All Senate Democrats voted for Cook; all Senate Republicans voted against her. In her Senate hearing, Dr. Cook stated that fighting high inflation should be the Fed’s top priority.
President Biden has nominated five people to the Fed and only two have been approved thus far: Lisa Cook and Dr. Lael Brainard. Brainard was the founding director of the Global Economy and Development Program and has worked at the Treasury Department. She serves as the vice chairwoman position at the Fed. Two other nominees are still pending: Michael Barr, a former Treasury Department official; and Philip Jefferson, an economics professor who would be the fourth African American man to serve in the role. The fifth appointee, Sarah Bloom Raskin, did not have enough votes to be confirmed in the Senate and will not be moving forward.