Following the withdrawal of former Federal Reserve Board governor Sarah Bloom Raskin, United States President Joe Biden has announced his intention to nominate former Obama administration official and law professor Michael Barr as the central bank’s vice chair for supervision.
In a Friday announcement, the White House said Barr was Biden’s pick to supervise the Federal Reserve and set the regulatory agenda for its leadership. Barr was on the advisory board of Ripple Labs from 2015 to 2017, served as the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for financial institutions under former President Barack Obama, and taught courses on financial regulation at the University of Michigan. According to the White House, he was “a key architect” of the Dodd-Frank Act — legislation that continues to influence financial policy in the United States.
“Barr has strong support from across the political spectrum — and has been confirmed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis,” said President Biden. “He understands that this job is not a partisan one, but one that plays a critical role in regulating our nation’s financial institutions to ensure Americans are treated fairly and to protect the stability of our economy.”
According to the U.S. president, he wanted “to move Barr’s nomination forward quickly,” likely given the vice-chair for supervision position has been vacant since Fed governor Randal Quarles’ term ended in October 2021. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, said he would support the nomination, citing the need for a “full Fed board."
“The vicechair of supervision plays a critical role in protecting our financial system and must prioritize strong financial regulation, and identify and stay ahead of risks to our economy,” said Brown. “I will support this key nominee, and I strongly urge my Republican colleagues to abandon their old playbook of personal attacks and demagoguery and put Americans and their pocketbooks first.”
It's unclear whether partisanship may play a role in moving Barr's potential nomination through committee and a full Senate vote. Raskin, Biden's first pick for vice chair for supervision, withdrew her name from consideration in March, citing “relentless attacks by special interests” and referring to Republican lawmakers who “held hostage” her nomination since February. At that time, Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee boycotted a meeting aimed at moving Biden's picks forward for a vote in the Senate.
The Senate has yet to confirm Biden’s picks for Fed chair, vice chair, and two governors: Jerome Powell, Lael Brainard, Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson, respectively. Powell has been serving as chair pro tempore since Feb. 4 in the absence of a full Senate vote, while Brainard continues to serve as a member of the Fed’s board of governors.