Senate confirms Obama-picked Federal Reserve board nominees


WASHINGTON — The Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama’s two nominees to the Federal Reserve Board, bringing the seven-member board to full strength for the first time since April 2006.

Harvard economics professor Jeremy Stein, a Democrat, was confirmed Thursday on a 70-24 vote. Former private equity executive Jerome Powell, a Republican, was confirmed, 74-21.

Obama had nominated the two in December, hoping that the pairing a Democrat and a Republican would quickly win the blessing of the Senate.

But Sen. David Vitter, a Republican, who opposed Stein and Powell, had blocked their confirmations. Vitter said the pair would essentially serve as a rubber stamp for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s policies.

Vitter forced the Senate to go through a parliamentary procedure that required the nominees get at least 60 votes.

“I couldn’t vote for the two nominees because they clearly support the current unprecedented activist monetary policies of the Fed,” Vitter said during the Senate debate.