Senate confirms Randal Quarles as new “most powerful man in banking”

Approved to serve as Fed’s vice chairman for supervision

The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Randal Quarles as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, placing President Donald Trump’s handpicked choice in the position that many consider to be the most powerful in banking.

Quarles will also serve as the Fed’s vice chairman of supervision, a position previously held by Daniel Tarullo, who unexpectedly stepped down as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System earlier this year.

In this role, Tarullo was considered to be Fed’s point man on overhauling the financial system, and emerged as the most powerful figure pushing against the country's biggest banks over their risk-taking in the past few years.

Tarullo was appointed to the Board by President Barack Obama for an unexpired term ending Jan. 31, 2022, so his resignation took many by surprise.

Trump then nominated Quarles, an investment-fund manager and former Republican Treasury official, to fill the position vacated by Tarullo.

And Thursday, the Senate voted to confirm Quarles by a 65-32 margin. Each of the Republicans in the Senate voted in favor of Quarles’ confirmation, except for Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, and Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, who each abstained from the vote.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, also abstained from the vote.

Thirteen Democrats voted in favor of Quarles’ confirmation.

Now that he has received Senate approval, Quarles will become the first person to officially hold the position of vice chairman of supervision. Tarullo held the position on a de facto basis.

As one might expect given the political climate, Quarles received an unwarm welcome from the Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee during his confirmation hearing earlier this year.

During the hearing, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, called out Quarles’ time at the Treasury.

“Quarles served as Treasury’s Undersecretary for Domestic Finance in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. It was his job to coordinate oversight of the financial industry and ensure government watchdogs were looking out for the best interest of American taxpayers,” Brown said. “However many of his statements leading up to the crisis lead me to wonder whether he was asleep at the switch or willfully turning a blind eye to Wall Street abuses.”

But despite Brown’s strong words, more than a dozen Democrats voted to confirm Quarles.

Quarles will serve as the vice chairman for supervision at the Fed for a term of four years. His term as a Fed governor will run through 2032.

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