The Senate confirmed Lisa D. Cook as a Federal Reserve governor on Tuesday, making her the first Black woman to hold that influential policy post.
Her confirmation came after Vice President Kamala Harris broke a 50-to-50 tie in the Senate, moving the Biden administration one step closer to reshaping the leadership team at the central bank.
Ms. Cook, an economist at Michigan State University who has researched racial disparities and labor markets, was nominated alongside a slate of other officials — President Biden had a chance to fill two open governor positions and to pick a new chair, vice chair and vice chair for supervision at the central bank.
Lael Brainard, Mr. Biden’s pick for Fed vice chair, is the only one of his Fed nominees who had already been confirmed.
Mr. Biden has also nominated Philip N. Jefferson, an academic economist and administrator at Davidson College, and he has renominated Jerome H. Powell as Fed chair. His initial nominee for the Fed vice chair for supervision, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew from consideration amid Republican and some Democratic opposition. Michael S. Barr was put up for the job more recently, and he still awaits a confirmation hearing.
If those additional nominees are confirmed, Mr. Biden will have nominated or renominated five of the Fed’s seven governors. The Fed is independent of politics, so those appointments are the main way that the White House can shape the future of monetary policy, which is used to keep inflation stable and employment high.
Governors at the Fed’s board in Washington hold constant votes on monetary policy and oversee the nation’s largest banks. They set interest rates to guide the economy alongside 12 regional reserve bank presidents, five of whom hold a vote at any given time.
The Fed is now battling stubbornly high inflation, and Mr. Biden’s nominees to the board are likely to stick to the course the central bank has already begun to chart. The Fed raised interest rates at its meeting in March and made an even bigger rate increase at its meeting last week. It will also imminently begin to shrink its balance sheet of bond holdings in a bid to push up longer-term interest rates and further slow the economy.
By making money more expensive to borrow, the Fed is trying to slow down spending and hiring, which could allow inflation to moderate over time as supply catches up with demand. During their hearings, the nominees all made it clear that they were committed to bringing down high inflation.
“High inflation is a grave threat to a long, sustained expansion, which we know raises the standard of living for all Americans and leads to broad-based, shared prosperity,” Ms. Cook said during her testimony. “That is why I am committed to keeping inflation expectations well anchored.”
Ms. Cook has a doctorate in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. She has a history of mentoring younger economists, including through the American Economic Association Summer Program, which aims to increase diversity in the field of economics.