Embattled Federal Reserve pick Raskin withdraws nomination

FILE - Sarah Bloom Raskin, a nominee to be the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors vice chair for supervision, speaks during the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on Feb. 3, 2022, in Washington. Raskin has withdrawn her nomination to the Federal Reserves Board of Governors, according to a person familiar with the matter. (Ken Cedeno/Pool via AP, File) (Ken Cedeno)

WASHINGTON – Sarah Bloom Raskin withdrew her nomination Tuesday to a position on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors after a key Democrat had joined with all Senate Republicans to oppose her confirmation.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced Monday that he opposed Raskin's confirmation, and all Republicans in the evenly-split 50-50 Senate had indicated that they planned to block her nomination for the position of the Fed's top banking regulator.

Republicans have argued that Raskin would use the Fed’s regulatory authority to discourage banks from lending to oil and gas companies. Democrats, as well as many banking executives, countered that Raskin’s views aren’t out of the mainstream and said she simply wants the Fed to consider the risks that climate change poses to banks, insurance companies and other financial firms.

President Joe Biden, who nominated Raskin in January, said she had “unparalleled experience” in areas like cybersecurity, climate change, and consumer protection.

The president asserted in a statement that “Sarah was subject to baseless attacks from industry and conservative interest groups."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki had reiterated Tuesday that Raskin had Biden’s “strong support.”

Raskin's nomination had been stuck in the Senate Banking Committee after Republicans last month unanimously refused to vote on it in an effort to prevent her being approved on a party-line vote.

Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, the senior Republican on the committee, also charged that Raskin inappropriately used her connections with the Fed to benefit a Colorado financial technology company, Reserve Trust. Raskin joined Reserve Trust in January 2017, after the firm had applied for a “master account” at the Fed, which would enable it to quickly transfer large sums of money without going through a bank. Reserve Trust’s application was turned down in mid-2017.

But the company reapplied and won approval the next year from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Raskin had contacted the Kansas City Fed in 2017 after the company’s application had been denied. The Kansas City Fed said it had approved Reserve Trust’s second application because the company changed its business model.

Raskin denied that she had taken any inappropriate action. But Toomey complained that she did not sufficiently respond to committee Republicans' questions on the matter.

In her letter to Biden withdrawing from consideration, Raskin wrote, “It was — and is — my considered view that the perils of climate change must be added to the list of serious risks that the Federal Reserve considers as it works to ensure the stability and resiliency of our economy and financial system.”

Chair Jerome Powell, who enjoys broad support among congressional Republicans, has taken steps to increase the Fed’s scrutiny of climate change and how it may affect the safety and soundness of banks.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Ohio Democrat who is chairman of the Banking Committee, said the panel would vote on Biden's four other nominees for the Fed, who were also delayed by the Republicans' boycott. Biden has nominated Powell, who is now serving as acting chair, to a second four-year term.

The president has also nominated Lael Brainard, a Fed governor, for the central bank’s No. 2 post, and economists Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson for positions on the board.

“Sadly, the American people will be denied a thoughtful, experienced public servant who was ready to fight inflation, stand up to Wall Street and corporate special interests, and protect our economy from foreign cyber attacks and climate change," Brown said.

Raskin previously served as Fed governor from 2010 through 2014 and then as the deputy Treasury secretary. She was approved unanimously by the Senate to both positions.