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Biden said he'll give Fed space to do its job to tackle inflation

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President Joe Biden (C) and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen meet with Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/8db89c35a0b0169511df062f444e32dc/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
President Joe Biden (C) and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen meet with Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

May 31 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden said he respects the Federal Reserve and plans to give it the space it needs to do its job to tackle inflation ahead of his Tuesday meeting with Chairman Jerome Powell.

Biden said the issue of inflation was his "top priority" for discussion during the meeting, which also included Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese.

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"It starts with a simple proposition: Respect the Fed and respect the Fed's independence, which I have done and will continue to do," Biden said during remarks in the Oval Office ahead of the meeting.

"I'm not going to interfere with their critically important work."

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He said the Federal Reserve has two responsibilities -- full employment and stable prices.

"So, I look forward to Chairman Powell's continued leadership at the Fed. And I look forward to the Senate considering my final nominee to the board, Michael Barr, in the near future."

The meeting was the first between Biden and Powell since November, when the president nominated him for a second term as chief of the Federal Reserve. The Senate confirmed Powell this month.

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One of the tools used by the Fed to judge inflation, the personal consumption expenditures price index, increased by 6.3% over the 12 months ending in April, which was slightly down from the 6.6% inflation rate in March.

The Fed this month hiked key interest rates by a half-point -- the largest single increase in 22 years -- in a move to control inflation. A key driver of inflation has been the cost of energy, which includes gas prices.

Former President Donald Trump first nominated Powell, a Republican, to head the central bank in 2017. Despite disapproval from progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Biden decided to renominate him for a second term.

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Clyde Hughes contributed to this report.

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