Washington – With bipartisan support, the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday advanced the nomination of Michael Barr of the University of Michigan as the nation’s top banking regulator.
The 17-7 vote included three Republican senators in favor: Sens. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, Cynthia Lummis from Wyoming and Jerry Moran from Kansas. Barr’s nomination is now before the full Senate for consideration.
Barr previously served in the Treasury Department under Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, and is now Dean of UM’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
If confirmed by the full US Senate, Barr will join another Michigan scholar on the Federal Reserve board – Michigan State University economist Lisa Cook, who has been confirmed last month and is the first ever black woman on the panel.
Barr’s tenure on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors would last until 2032, and his term as Vice Chairman of Fed Oversight would last four years.
Barr would arrive at the Fed at a difficult time for the central bank, as it is counting on historic inflation levels near a 40-year high, with the 12-month rate down slightly to 8.3% in April against 8.5% in March. During his hearing last month, Barr said he would work to reduce high inflation.
“I strongly believe that inflation is far too high today, and I am committed to bringing it back to the Federal Reserve’s 2% target,” Barr told senators.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Democratic chairman of the banking panel, called Barr an “exceptional” candidate.
“We need to put it to work immediately,” Brown said.
Toomey also said Barr was well qualified given his previous government service and “distinguished” career in financial services and regulation, adding that he was “strongly” committed to promoting transparency and accountability.
“While I disagree with Professor Barr on a number of policy issues, he is committed to tackling the record inflation that is hitting American families, and he has also publicly acknowledged that the Fed is not It does not have the power, nor should it, to allocate credits or use its regulatory powers to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Toomey said Wednesday.
Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, said he would vote for Barr because he was committed to pursuing a process that would create the opportunity for a Hispanic American to be considered for the board. which has never had a Hispanic member in its 108-year history.
“There is no guarantee that this person would be named, but to create a process that the Federal Reserve itself should adopt as a whole in order to break this period of more than a century during which no one in our community – despite $2.3 trillion domestic market – finally has a say,” Menendez said.
Barr served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions in 2009 and 2010 during the Obama administration and helped craft the 2010 Dodd-Frank regulations in response to the 2008 financial crisis.
Barr also served on the Obama White House National Economic Council and previously worked in the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant to Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and as a special adviser to Clinton and the US Department of State, according to his biography.
Barr was a Rhodes Scholar and legal clerk for former Justice David Souter of the United States Supreme Court after earning a bachelor’s degree and law degree from Yale.
Biden’s top pick for the Fed job, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her nomination after continued opposition from Republicans and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Barr would succeed one of his predecessors as dean of the Ford School, Edward Gramlich, who served on the Fed’s Board of Governors from 1997 to 2005.
Associated Press and Detroit News writer Breana Noble contributed.