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Fed nominees draw sharp criticism from a top Republican senator

·1 min read

By Ann Saphir

Jan 25 (Reuters) - Signaling U.S. President Joe Biden's picks for the Federal Reserve may face a tough confirmation process in the closely divided Senate, Republican Senator Pat Toomey told the president he doesn't think his choices fairly represent the nation for which they will help set monetary policy.

"I write to express my concerns with the significant lack of diversity in geography and professional experience in your recent slate of nominees to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System," Toomey, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, told Biden in a letter Tuesday and made public by his office.

Biden earlier this month nominated former Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin to be the central bank's vice chair for supervision and two Black economists, Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson, to serve on its board of governors. Those choices would help make the seven-member Fed Board the most diverse it has ever been, by race and gender.

Late last year Biden renominated Fed Chair Jerome Powell and picked current Governor Lael Brainard to be Fed vice chair, both of whom had confirmation hearings earlier this month.

All nominees but Michigan State University's Cook are from the Richmond Fed's district, just one of 12 Fed regions across the country, Toomey said in the letter.

Toomey reserved his sharpest comments for Raskin, saying she has "demonstrated hostility" toward the oil and gas sector, making her "unacceptable."

The banking committee must approve Fed nominees before they are considered by the full Senate.

Senator objections over lack of geographical diversity have sunk at least one Fed nominee, Nobel Prize laureate Peter Diamond, in 2011.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Richard Chang and Andrea Ricci)

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