Philip Jefferson has been nominated to the number two spot at the US Federal Reserve

Washington (AFP) - US President Joe Biden on Friday nominated Philip Jefferson to the number two job at the Federal Reserve, a position left vacant since Lael Brainard left for the White House in February.

If confirmed, he would take over as vice chair at a crucial time for the Fed, which has raised interest rates 10 times since last year as it looks to tackle above-target inflation.

Biden also tapped current World Bank executive director Adriana Kugler to serve as a Federal Reserve governor, and renominated Lisa Cook to serve a full 14-year term as a governor at the bank, the White House said in a statement.

“I am confident these nominees will help build upon the historically strong economic recovery we have had under my administration,” Biden said, adding he was believed the nominees understood the bipartisan nature of the role.

“I am deeply honored by the trust President Biden and Vice President (Kamala) Harris have shown me with the nomination,” Jefferson told a conference in California on Friday, according to prepared remarks.

- First Hispanic Fed governor -

If confirmed, Kugler will become the first Hispanic-American to serve on the Fed’s governing body, and would have a key role to play in setting the benchmark interest rate.

Jefferson, who has served as a Fed governor since his Senate confirmation last year, would become the second Black man to serve as Fed vice-chair, underscoring the Biden administration’s commitment to diversifying the management of the US central bank.

The three nominees put forward by the Biden administration must now be confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

By nominating Jefferson and Kugler and renominating Cook, who is a Black woman, “President Biden is signaling that the hopes and dreams of Black and Latino Americans are central to the promise of America,” US Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said in a tweet.

“Simply put, we are witnessing history unfold in real time,” he said.

If confirmed, the nominees will fill the remaining positions on the Fed’s rate-setting committee, which has been operating with just 11 members instead of the usual 12 since Brainard left the Fed to become the director of the National Economic Council.

“These nominees are seasoned economists with the capacity to contribute meaningfully to the work of the Federal Reserve Board,” Patrick McHenry, who chairs the Republican-controlled House financial services committee, said in a statement.

“Should they be confirmed to these roles, I urge them to maintain strict impartiality and remain laser focused on reining in inflation,” he said.

“Under no circumstances should partisan politics influence the Federal Reserve Board’s decision-making,” he added.