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Hearings for Fed's Powell, Brainard likely next month, senator's aide says

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Dec 8 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown expects to wait until January to hold hearings on President Joe Biden's nominees to the top two Federal Reserve positions, according to the Ohio senator's spokesperson.

Biden last month nominated Fed Chair Jerome Powell to a second four-year term as head of the U.S. central bank and picked Fed Governor Lael Brainard for the soon-to-be-vacant post of vice chair at the central bank. Nominees must be approved by Brown's panel before being considered by the full Senate. Powell's current term ends in early February.

"My boss said January," Brown's spokesperson, Alysa James, wrote in an email on Tuesday.

The hearings could come at a key moment in monetary policy, as the Fed pivots from the extraordinary accommodative policies it put in place to battle the recession triggered by the coronavirus pandemic to a gradually tighter policy stance.

The Fed will hold its next policy meeting next week. Powell and his fellow policymakers are expected to discuss accelerating the wind-down of the central bank's bond-buying program, ending it by March or April. That would pave the way for interest rate hikes soon after to tamp down inflation that's running at more than twice the Fed's 2% goal.

Neither Powell nor Brainard won unanimous approval the first time they went through the nomination processes for their current jobs, in 2012 and 2014 respectively, and neither is expected to do so this time.

So far only Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee, and Republican Senator Tom Cotton have come out publicly against Powell's renomination. A simple majority vote is required for both the committee and the full Senate to approve the nominations.

Biden plans to put forward more nominees for open positions at the Fed by the end of this month, the White House said on Tuesday. (Reporting by Ann Saphir Editing by Paul Simao)

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