The Senate overwhelmingly voted Tuesday afternoon to make Jerome Powell the 16th chairman of the Federal Reserve, giving him an overwhelming bipartisan endorsement to manage the central bank.
The vote for the 64 year-old Powell, a current member of the Fed’s Board of Governors and former financier and Treasury official, was 85-13. He is set to take over from current Chairwoman Janet Yellen when her term expires Feb. 3.
Four Republicans — Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Tennessee, Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida — joined seven Democrats and independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont in voting against Powell's nomination.
As the top economic policymaker in the world, Powell will face the responsibility of extending the economic recovery as it extends toward a ninth year and undoing some of the emergency monetary policy stimulus measures put into place during the financial crisis.
He also is expected to play a major role in the Trump administration’s push to lessen banking regulations for the purpose of promoting loan growth.
Powell will “play a key role in right-sizing federal regulations,” said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, speaking on the Senate floor before the vote.
The vote on Powell’s nomination represented a return to the norm of broad bipartisan support for Fed chairman nominees. Former President Barack Obama’s nominees saw significant opposition from Republicans: Thirty senators voted against a second term for Ben Bernanke in 2010, and 26 senators voted against confirming Yellen in 2014 — and more likely would have voted “no” had they not been kept out of Washington by inclement weather.
Several conservative Republicans voted against Powell, who consistently voted with Yellen as a governor on the Fed’s Board of Governors since 2012.
But the bulk of the GOP voted to install him, including a number who had voted against his confirmation to the board in 2012.
The majority of “no” votes came from liberals such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as well as from senators thought to be potential presidential candidates in 2020.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, however, the populist ranking Democrat on the Banking Committee, voted in favor of Powell. “His track record over the past six years shows he’s a thoughtful policymaker,” Brown said on the Senate floor.
Powell, who goes by “Jay,” suggested in confirmation hearings that he supports the idea of lessening the burden of regulations, although he didn’t indicate that he backs the idea of substantially undoing the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, as President Trump has called for.
In terms of monetary policy, Powell is likely to continue on the course set by Yellen for only gradual interest rate increases in the years ahead, as the economy recovers from the recession. Nevertheless, recently released transcripts from the monetary policy meetings during his first year suggest that he has a more “hawkish” view of monetary policy than Yellen or Bernanke, meaning that he favors tighter money and has more skepticism of stimulus efforts.
This post has been updated to reflect the final vote count. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., changed her vote to a "no."