Dr. Lisa Cook made history after the Senate voted along party lines Tuesday to approve her nomination to the Federal Reserve, where she will be the first Black woman to serve on the Board of Governors.
The vote was 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie. Senate Democrats lauded Cook’s credentials, and Republicans cast doubt about her economic views and independence from partisan politics.
Democrats have been pushing for nearly four months to confirm Cook, whose pick was lauded by bankers, former Federal Reserve governors and top-tier economists but has faced united opposition from Senate Republicans. The central bank’s mandate is to promote stable prices and maximum employment.
Tuesday was Democrats’ second attempt after senators tried and failed to advance Cook’s nomination two weeks ago by a vote of 47-51. That occurred amid the absences of two Democratic senators who had COVID-19, as well as Harris.
Cook is only the second of Biden’s five nominees for the Fed to win Senate confirmation. His Fed choices have faced an unusual level of partisan opposition, given the Fed’s history as an independent agency that seeks to remain above politics.
“Cook is unquestionably qualified and possesses bipartisan support from top economists, former Fed governors, bankers and civil rights organizations. Despite her broad support, a small but loud minority have wrongly claimed that Lisa Cook doesn’t meet the standards for this position — standards that only seem to apply for certain nominees,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio who chairs the Banking Committee. “She will bring a critical voice to the Fed — one that has been missing for far too long.”
Cook has a doctorate in economics from the University of California, Berkeley and has taught since 2005 at Michigan State University, where she is a professor of economics and international relations. She was named a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in January and previously served as a senior Treasury Department adviser and on President Barack Obama’s White House Council of Economic Advisors from 2011-12.
“The depth and breadth of my experience in both the public and private sectors qualify me to serve as a Federal Reserve governor,” Cook said at her hearing in February. “And should I be confirmed, I would be honored to work with my colleagues to help navigate this critical moment for our nation’s economy and the global economy.”