WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Friday said he would nominate former Treasury official Michael Barr to be the Federal Reserve’s top regulatory official, replacing Sarah Bloom Raskin who withdrew in March after failing to win the backing of moderate Democrats.
Barr, currently a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, was a central figure at the Treasury under President Barack Obama when Congress passed the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law in the wake of the 2007-09 financial crisis, and helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
“Michael brings the expertise and experience necessary for this important position at a critical time for our economy and families across the country,” Biden said in a statement.
The Fed vice chair for supervision is responsible for overseeing the biggest banks, determining proper capital ratios, and represents the United States in cross-border negotiations over international banking standards.
As Treasury assistant secretary for financial institutions, Barr helped shape the Wall Street post-crisis overhaul, Biden said, adding that Barr had strong support across the political spectrum. He noted that Barr had been confirmed on a bipartisan basis for the Treasury post in 2009.
However, Patrick Toomey, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, criticized Barr’s support of the Dodd Frank law, which Toomey said enshrined taxpayer bank bailouts. He also said the CFPB was “unaccountable” and “unconstitutional.”
“For these and other reasons, I have concerns about his nomination, but I look forward to meeting and discussing these and other matters,” Toomey said in a Friday statement.
The president said he would work closely with the Senate Banking Committee to move Barr’s nomination forward quickly, and called on the Senate – which is evenly split with Democrats holding the tie-breaker vote – to swiftly confirm his four other Fed nominees, including Jerome Powell for a second term as chair and Fed Governor Lael Brainard for vice chair.
A vote is expected on Powell, Brainard and economists Philip Jefferson and Lisa Cook, both nominated to fill vacant Fed board seats, after the Senate returns from the Easter break.