Jul 13, 2022 - Economy & Business

Senate confirms Biden's pick for Federal Reserve bank cop

Michael Barr speaks during a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee confirmation hearing
Michael Barr at a Senate confirmation hearing in May. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Michael Barr, the Biden administration’s pick for the Federal Reserve’s top Wall Street cop, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday — a win for the White House after a string of failed nominees to fill key financial regulator positions.

Why it matters: As the nation’s most powerful bank regulator, Barr will leave an imprint on the oversight of the financial system and monetary policy.

  • Details: The Senate voted 66-28 to confirm Michael Barr as a member of the Fed's Board of Governors and as the central bank's vice chair for supervision.
  • The role was the last vacant seat on the Board of Governors, ensuring a full panel for the first time since 2013.

Catch up quick: Barr, who served as an assistant secretary in the Treasury Department during the Obama administration, was a key architect of the Dodd-Frank law.

  • Barr worked closely with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Most recently, Barr was the dean of the University of Michigan's public policy school.

The position was created by the Dodd-Frank Act enacted in 2010, but Barr is only the second person and first Democratic appointee to hold the job, which has broad responsibility for ensuring the stability of the financial system.

The big picture: The confirmation is a victory for the Biden administration, which has put up two candidates for key financial regulator positions only to have both withdraw their nominations after it became clear their candidacies would not survive the Senate.

  • Sarah Bloom Raskin was the Biden administration's first pick for the Fed vice chair of supervision. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) opposed her nomination, calling out her advocacy for banks and regulators to shift funding away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy.
  • Then there was Saule Omarova, who Biden nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, another powerful bank regulator. Senators from both parties cooled on her candidacy after previous research that advocated greater state control of the banking system surfaced.

The bottom line: Barr's confirmation is the Biden administration's most significant move yet to leave a mark on financial system regulation.

Go deeper