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Senate confirms Jerome Powell to second stint as Fed chairman

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Senate confirms Jerome Powell to second stint as Fed chairman
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on March 3. On Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly confirmed him to a second term as Fed chairman. File Photo by Tom Williams/UPI | License Photo

May 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly in favor of confirming Jerome Powell to a second term as Federal Reserve chairman.

The chamber approved President Joe Biden's nomination with a vote of 80-19.

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Former President Donald Trump first chose Powell, a Republican, to head the central bank in 2017.

Biden showed his confidence in Powell by nominating him again in November over opposition from progressive Democrats in Congress. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were among the six liberal lawmakers who voted against him.

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Biden said he picked Powell for a second term because though the economy was in recovery at the time, it was still unsettled due to the lingering pandemic. Since then, the economy -- in particular inflation -- has faltered, prompting the Federal Reserve to make its highest interest rate hike in decades.

He said Powell would provide a strong sense of continuity and security within the economy.

Biden praised the Senate's confirmation of Powell as well as Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson to the Fed's board of governors earlier this week.

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"I have made it clear that tackling inflation is my top domestic priority. So I am pleased to see the Senate take a step forward on my agenda to get inflation under control by confirming my nominees to the Fed," he said in a statement.

"The Federal Reserve plays a primary role in fighting inflation, and these well-qualified members of the board will bring the skill and knowledge needed at this critical time for our economy and families across the country."

Prior to his 2017 nomination, Powell served on the Federal Reserve board under former chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke.

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During his first term, the Fed under Powell instituted massive levels of low-interest lending designed to keep small and large businesses afloat during the pandemic while slashing interest rates to near zero.

Warren opposed Powell's nomination last year, criticizing him for turning back pandemic-era Wall Street regulations.

"Working families should not bear the cost of fighting inflation," she tweeted Thursday. "As Fed Chair, Jerome Powell must focus on strengthening our economy without slamming the brakes on its growth or hurting families already struggling with higher prices."

This week in Washington

Press Secretary Jen Psaki conducts her final briefing as White House press secretary in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room on Friday. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

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