Two Democratic senators oppose Powell as Fed chair

Christopher Rugaber
Associated Press

Washington — Two Democratic senators said Friday that they oppose the reappointment of Jerome Powell to a second term as chair of the Federal Reserve, saying Powell has been insufficiently committed to fighting climate change, an issue that the world's central banks are increasingly confronting.

Their opposition comes as President Joe Biden is expected to announce within days whom he will choose for the nation's most powerful economic position. Many Fed watchers expect Powell to be offered a second term, though Lael Brainard, a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors, has emerged as a leading alternative.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

“President Biden must appoint a Fed Chair who ... shares the Administration’s view that fighting climate change is the responsibility of every policymaker,” Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island and Jeff Merkley from Oregon said in a statement. "That person is not Jerome Powell.”

Including Whitehouse and Merkley, three Democratic senators have publicly said they will vote against Powell, a former private equity executive who was elevated to the Fed chairmanship by President Donald Trump and whose term expires in early February. The other is Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has called Powell “a dangerous man” to lead the Fed because of his support for loosening some bank regulations.

Earlier this week, Biden said he would announce a decision within several days, though that could slip into next week.

Whitehouse and Merkley did not say whom they would prefer instead of Powell. Brainard, a favorite of many progressives, has expressed more willingness than Powell to use the Fed's tools, principally its supervision of banks, to address climate change.