Biden nominates the first Latino to the Federal Reserve


Originally Published: 12 MAY 23 11:00 ET
Updated: 12 MAY 23 12:12 ET

    (CNN) — President Joe Biden on Friday nominated economist and World Bank official Adriana Kugler to join the Federal Reserve’s powerful Board of Governors and Philip Jefferson to be the central bank’s vice chair.

If confirmed, Kugler, a Colombian-American, would be the first Latino to serve on the Fed board, marking the latest effort by Biden to improve the central bank’s diversity.

Biden, who has been under pressure from New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez to name a Latino to the Fed, praised Kugler in a statement as a “highly qualified and respected economist with deep expertise in labor markets.”

Menendez celebrated the groundbreaking nomination at the Fed, saying in a statement: “Simply put, we are witnessing history unfold in real time.”

“We are ushering in a new chapter at the Federal Reserve, which for 109 years has never had Latinos or Latinas in the upper echelons of its leadership,” Menendez said. “We are finally giving Latinos, all 62 million of us who call this country home, a seat at the table where the most consequential decisions on monetary policy are made.”

Last year, Kugler was confirmed with bipartisan support to serve as the US executive director to the World Bank. Her name has been mentioned in media reports as a candidate to fill the open seat at the Fed created when Lael Brainard left the Fed in February to serve as the director of the White House’s National Economic Council.

Kugler, who is currently on leave from Georgetown University, previously worked in the Obama administration as the Labor Department’s chief economist. She brings to the Fed extensive research experience and expertise in labor economics. Her work has examined the role that public policies, such as unemployment benefits and minimum wages, play in labor-market outcomes.

Jefferson, who joined the Fed as a governor a year ago, has been tapped by Biden to the influential role of vice chair, serving as the No. 2 official behind Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. He joined the Fed board in May 2022, after winning broad bipartisan support during his congressional confirmation process. Jefferson has indicated support for the Fed’s aggressive approach in combating inflation in past speeches.

The Fed’s board consists of seven members, including two vice chairs; one who serves in the absence of the chairperson and another in charge of supervising and regulating financial institutions. The vice chair role was previously held by Brainard.

Jefferson’s decades-long career includes stints in economics and academia. He taught economics at Swarthmore College, Columbia University and the University of Virginia, and served as a high-ranking administrator at Davidson College. He also worked as a research economist at the Fed’s Board of Governors.

He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Vassar College and two post-graduate degrees from the University of Virginia.

In a speech this week, Jefferson said that he believes “inflation will start to come down and the economy will have the opportunity to continue to expand.”

Biden also announced he will renominate Lisa Cook, the first Black woman to serve at the Fed, to an additional full term as Fed governor. Last year, the Senate confirmed Cook to a term that expires in January.

“These nominees understand that this job is not a partisan one, but one that plays a critical role in pursuing maximum employment, maintaining price stability and supervising many of our nation’s financial institutions,” Biden said.

Friday’s nominations underscore Biden’s intention of elevating individuals with diverse backgrounds to key government posts.

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, praised Biden’s Fed nominees as people who “reflect the vibrant diversity of our country, and the people who make it work.”

“These historic nominees have built their careers by putting workers and communities at the center of our economy,” Brown said.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the top Republican on the Banking Committee, said he looks forward to “thoroughly vetting these nominees and determining if they are equipped to address our nation’s economic challenges.” Scott added that it’s critical during today’s period of high inflation that Fed nominees are “exceptionally qualified.”

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