Randal Quarles gained confirmation Thursday to serve as a member of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, placing him in a position to carry out the Trump administration's regulatory relief agenda and marking the start of President Trump's transformation of the central bank.
The Senate voted 65 to 32 to confirm Quarles, a former private equity financier and Bush Treasury official, for a 14-year term at the central bank. The upper chamber then voice-voted him to be vice chairman for supervision.
That position, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, entails a significant role in orchestrating federal oversight of the financial system. It had never previously been filled.
Quarles will be in a position to help Republicans in their goal of cutting back the rules imposed in the wake of the financial crisis.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo of Idaho said Quarles "has extensive government and private-sector experience dealing with both domestic and international financial markets."
Speaking in opposition to Quarles' confirmation, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., accused him of being interested only in aiding the financial industry, and of failing to regulate finance in the run-up to the financial crisis as part of the Bush Treasury.
"His motto seems to be: Whatever the big banks want, give it to them," Warren said.
"Confirming Mr. Quarles endangers the health of the economy," she warned.
Quarles also will have a vote on the central bank's monetary policy decisions. In fact, he will be one of just four governors at the seven-position Fed, after current vice chairman Stanley Fischer steps down this month.
The Trump administration's administrative effort to change the post-crisis rules is already underway.
Agencies have begun the process of revising the Volcker Rule, a central provision of Dodd-Frank that prevents banks from speculating with federally-insured deposits. That revision is one of dozens the Trump Treasury sketched out in a June report envisioning a total overhaul of federal regulations.
And last week, regulators voted to end enhanced federal oversight of the American International Group, the insurance company that played a major role in the 2008 meltdown. Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen voted with others to declare the firm no longer a systemic threat to the financial system, drawing some criticism from Wall Street critics who favor tighter regulation.
Immediately following Thursday's vote, the Financial Services Roundtable, an industry group, commended the Senate. Tim Pawlenty, the group's CEO, said the industry "looks forward to working with Randal Quarles to better tailor the financial regulatory system in a way that meets the needs of America's modern economy."