November 15, 2018 / 7:50 PM / a month ago

U.S. Senate votes to confirm Fed governor nominee Bowman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Michelle Bowman to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, cementing a majority at the board for officials picked by President Donald Trump.

The Senate vote was 64-34.

It’s not exactly clear what the addition of Bowman, who has run the Kansas state bank commission since 2017, will mean for the policy debate at the U.S. central bank. Her views on monetary policy are not well known although she has pledged to focus on meeting the Fed’s goals of stable prices and maximum employment.

The Fed has been raising rates since 2015 to keep the U.S. economy from overheating. But Trump, who took office in January 2017, has criticized the central bank for the hikes.

Despite his criticism, the three men he already has picked for Fed jobs - Chairman Jerome Powell, Vice Chairman Randal Quarles and Vice Chairman Richard Clarida - have all backed hikes while at the Fed. Powell was already serving on the board as a governor when Trump picked him to succeed Janet Yellen as the Fed’s chairman. Earlier this month, the Fed said it planned to keep raising rates.

Trump has had a wide berth to reshape the central bank but at the urging of advisers like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others sensitive to the importance of maintaining market faith in the Fed’s independence, he has picked a collection of comparatively mainstream economists and centrist Republicans.

Bowman, nominated by Trump in April, will bring the number of governors serving at the Fed to four, with three vacancies remaining to be filled. The Fed’s governors vote at every monetary policy meeting along with the presidents of five of the Fed system’s 12 regional banks, who take turns voting on interest rates. The governors also oversee a large swath of the U.S. banking system.

Bowman is filling a seat reserved for an official with community banking experience. She has said she favors greater tailoring of bank regulations put in place after the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

Bowman could be the last official to join the Fed’s board this year. Trump has nominated two people for the three remaining vacancies. One of them, Marvin Goodfriend, barely passed a Senate panel vote in February following a contentious hearing and his nomination stalled over doubts he would get enough votes to pass the full Senate.

Trump only made his other nomination, financial stability expert Nellie Liang, in September. Trump would have to renominate her for the job if the Senate doesn’t approve her nomination before the end of the year.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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