Senate confirms Michigan State University economist Lisa Cook to Federal Reserve

Andrew Roth

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Michigan State University economist Lisa Cook speaks during a confirmation hearing on Feb. 3, 2022.Ken Cedeno (Pool Photo)

Michigan State University economist Lisa Cook was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday to serve on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, becoming the first Black woman to serve on the board in its 108-year history.

The Senate voted 51-50 along party lines to confirm Cook’s nomination, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.

Senate Democrats had previously attempted to confirm Cook two weeks ago but came up short with a vote of 47-51. Two Democratic senators and Harris were absent during the previous vote.

Cook’s nomination was praised by bankers, former Federal Reserve governors, and economists but faced opposition from Senate Republicans, who have called her economic views “radical.” Biden nominated Cook in January.

Cook was named a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago last year and has previously served as a senior economist on former President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, as well as reviewing agencies for the Biden-Harris and Obama-Biden presidential transition teams.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday that Cook has “no proven expertise in modern economics.”

“Professor Cook is a proven partisan who has promoted left-wing conspiracy theories and called for a fellow academic to be fired because that person did not support defunding the police," McConnell said. "The American people deserve an independent, nonpartisan inflation fighter for this important post."

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, praised Cook’s “perspective and experience.”

"Dr. Lisa Cook is the right person at the right time to serve at the Federal Reserve," Stabenow said. "Today’s confirmation comes at a moment when the Federal Reserve needs the best and the brightest to help us recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Cook’s perspective and experience is unmatched and will be instrumental in our nation’s recovery."

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Twp., said that Cook will help the economy recover after the pandemic while fighting inflation.

“As we work to bolster our economic recovery, we must ensure our workers and small businesses can thrive and that we can lower costs for families,” said Peters. “Michigan’s own Dr. Lisa Cook has the experience and leadership needed to help strengthen our economy and support families across our state. I was proud to support her historic confirmation and am confident her perspective will serve our nation well on the Federal Reserve.”

The first Black man to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Andrew Brimmer, was also an assistant professor at Michigan State University’s Department of Economics.

If the Senate goes on to confirm Philip Jefferson to the Federal Reserve, it would mark the first time in history that the board has included more than one Black governor at once, according to research by Kaleb Nygaard at the Yale Program on Financial Stability.

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Andrew Roth is a freelance reporter and photojournalist in Michigan covering politics, technology, culture and their intersection. Andrew has had bylines in news outlets like the Detroit News, Michigan Advance and Flint Beat. He was named one of the best political reporters in Michigan by the Washington Post and his work has been cited by outlets like Bloomberg, Endgadget, Daily Kos and others. You can follow him on Twitter at @RothTheReporter and @RothsReviews, and on Instagram at @RothTheReporter.

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