Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jeff Merkley on Friday came out against to keeping Jerome Powell at the helm of the Federal Reserve due to what they see as his insufficient response to the climate crisis.
The opposition further complicates the imminent decision by President Joe Biden on whether to renominate Powell four another four years term to lead one of the world’s most powerful institutions. Senator Elizabeth Warren warned that Powell is a “dangerous man” to lead the Fed because of his track record on Wall Street regulation.
By contrast, Whitehouse and Merkley focused on Powell’s climate resume, arguing that at first he “ignored” climate change and then later resisted calls for the Fed to use its tools to fight it.
“Jerome Powell refuses to recognize climate change as an urgent and systemic economic threat,” the lawmakers wrote. “President Biden must appoint a Fed Chair who will ensure the Fed is fulfilling its mandate to safeguard our financial system and shares the Administration’s view that fighting climate change is the responsibility of every policymaker. That person is not Jerome Powell.”
However, Powell has taken steps to address the climate crisis, even if he hasn’t moved as aggressively as progressives would like.
Late last year, the Powell-led Fed joined an international network of global financial regulators focused on climate change. In June, Powell said the climate crisis poses “profound challenges for the global economy and certainly the financial system.”
Neither the White House nor the Fed were immediately available to respond to the criticism.
Despite the concerns voiced by some progressives, analysts say Powell would have more than enough support in the Senate, including from many Republicans, to get confirmed to another term. His term expires in February and the White House has said Biden plans to make a decision by Thanksgiving.