The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter to congressional lawmakers raising concerns about Sarah Bloom Raskin, President Joe Biden’s nominee as the Federal Reserve’s vice chair for supervision, with the lobby group citing her calls for federal regulators to pull financing from the fossil fuel industry.
Tom Quaadman, executive vice president of the Chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, said in the Jan. 27 letter that Raskin’s past actions and comments on several fronts have raised concerns among the business community and should be scrutinized by the Senate Banking Committee.
Raskin, a former Federal Reserve governor and Treasury official under former President Barack Obama, is set to face a confirmation hearing on Feb. 3. She needs the banking committee’s nod of approval before her nomination is considered by the full Senate.
In his letter to the leaders of the banking committee, Quaadman said Raskin has been critical of the Federal Reserve for letting oil and gas companies access emergency funding programs during the pandemic, citing her op-ed in the New York Times in which she questioned why the Fed was spending “so much money on a dying industry.”
Quaadman called on the banking committee to press Raskin for answers whether it’s her view that it’s the role of the Fed to channel money to or away from politically favored or disfavored industries, writing “she has also advocated for federal regulators to transition financing away from the fossil fuel industry in her writings and public comments.”
Quaadman’s other concerns include demanding that the committee press Raskin for assurances about Fed independence, determining whether she backs implementation of Basel III banking standards in a way that doesn’t reduce the availability of credit to U.S. small businesses, and if she’ll commit to not imposing more stringent standards on the U.S. financial sector than is the international norm stipulated in guidelines of the Swiss-based Financial Stability Board (FSB).
White House spokesperson Michael Gwin told Reuters that Raskin would bring unparalleled experience to the position and enjoys bipartisan support from a spectrum of economic experts.
“Bloom Raskin believes firmly in the independent role of the Federal Reserve and will work in concert with Chair (Jerome) Powell and her colleagues to identify and mitigate a range of risks facing our financial system–including cyber and climate–within the Federal Reserve’s existing mandate,” he told the outlet.
Raskin is “firmly opposed to the Federal Reserve allocating credit by sector or choking off sectors from access to credit,” a senior administration official told Reuters. “She supports the existing policy framework on climate risks that has been articulated by Powell and [current Fed vice chair for supervision Randal] Quarles.”
Quarles, who was appointed the Fed’s vice chair for supervision by former President Donald Trump in 2017, resigned in December.
Raskin is one of five Fed nominations put forward by President Joe Biden. If confirmed, Biden’s nominees will hold a majority of seats on the Fed’s seven-member board and have the power to drive Fed regulatory policies.
The banking supervision role Raskin is being tapped for is perhaps the most consequential of all the vacancies, with the Fed vice chair for supervision leading policymaking on issues like climate change financial risks, community lending rules, and financial technology companies.
Reuters contributed to this report.