Fed Nominee Bowman Clears Senate Hurdle, Poised for Confirmation

(Bloomberg) -- A Trump administration nominee to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors cleared an important procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, making it likely she will join the central bank before year’s end.

Lawmakers passed a motion limiting debate on the nomination of Michelle Bowman, the Kansas state banking commissioner, to fill one of three vacancies at the Fed board in Washington. Once installed, she will take the number of governors to five for the first time in more than a year.

Led by Chairman Jerome Powell, the U.S. central bank is gradually raising interest rates to keep the economy on an even keel and inflation near its 2 percent goal. Nothing in her confirmation hearing indicated that Bowman would object to the policy that Powell has laid out. Officials have raised interest rates three times this year and are on track to hike again in December, according to pricing in federal funds futures.

Bowman’s nomination received bipartisan support in the Senate Banking Committee in June, a strong signal that it would receive ample backing from Democrats in the full Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he expects to complete Bowman’s confirmation this week.

Bowman’s addition would satisfy a clause added to the Federal Reserve Act in 2015 requiring the Fed’s leadership include at least one governor with community banking experience. Nominees to the Fed’s two remaining vacancies, former Fed staff economist Nellie Liang and Carnegie Mellon University professor Marvin Goodfriend, are still awaiting confirmation.

Bowman is a fifth-generation banker, according to her biography on the website of the State Bank Commissioner of Kansas. She was nominated to her current job by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback in 2016 and took the post in January 2017, after working at her family’s Farmers & Drovers Bank, which her great-great-grandfather helped to charter.

Bowman also served in government for several years in Washington, first on the staff of former Kansas Senator Bob Dole and later as deputy assistant secretary and policy adviser to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

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