UPDATED: Senate gives green light to Brainard as Fed vice chair; Cook’s membership on board unclear

Lael Brainard will be the next vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board following a 52-43 vote by the Senate Tuesday. However, a vote for another member of the Fed Board was unclear Tuesday after some Senate Democrats reported they had contracted COVID-19.

Once sworn in, Brainard will serve a four-year term as vice chair, which expires in 2026 (the same year her term as a member of the Fed Board will expire). She succeeds Richard Clarida in the post; he resigned late last year, two months before his term as vice chair and as a board member ended.

Brainard has served on the Fed Board since June 2014 after being nominated by then-President Barack Obama (D); that term runs through January 2026. While at the Fed, she has been involved in several key issues related to financial institution regulation. Those include: being the Fed’s point person on reform of rules implementing anti-redlining laws (the Community Reinvestment Act, or CRA); and leading the Fed’s efforts in developing a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week payments system (known as FedNow), expected to debut in 2023.

Her term as vice chair will end at the same time as her term as vice chair.

Meanwhile, a vote on confirmation of Lisa DeNell Cook as a member of the Fed Board for the remainder of a 14-year term that began Feb. 1, 2010, (until 2024), was delayed. Two Democratic senators – Ron Wyden of Oregon and Chris Murphy of Connecticut – have contracted COVID-19; so has Vice President Kamala Harris. Their absences mean that the Democrats cannot muster enough votes to close debate on Cook’s nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to set up another vote in the future on Cook’s confirmation once the Senate Democrats have returned to full attendance. Republicans, however, objected and wanted to hold a vote on Cook’s nomination while they held a majority in the chamber. At press time, the Republican senators had demanded a cloture vote on Cook’s nomination (meaning, to cut off debate), and proceed to a final vote on confirmation, which would likely fail as Republicans Tuesday outnumbered Democrats.

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