Bloomberg — Thirty-four US lawmakers urged President Joe Biden to appoint a Latino to fill the vacancy created on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors by the resignation of Vice Chair Lael Brainard.
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, led by Robert Menendez, a Democratic senator from New Jersey, called for what would be the first appointment of a Latino to a top leadership position at the central bank in a letter sent to Biden Friday.
“Despite being the United States’ largest and fastest-growing minority population, Latinos have been persistently underrepresented at the Federal Reserve,” the lawmakers wrote. “The appointment of a qualified Latino candidate to the Board of Governors would be a critical step in bringing diverse perspectives to our nation’s central bank.”
Biden on Tuesday named Brainard as his new director of the National Economic Council.
To fill the Fed board vacancy that move created, the president could appoint a new vice chair or could elevate a current governor to that position and then name another candidate to fill the governor post.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on whether the president would take the Hispanic Caucus’s request into consideration. But she said it was an important vacancy “that the president is going to make a priority to fill.”
Though some strides have been made in recent years, the Fed has long lacked diversity, especially among its leaders and the economists that help shape policy. Last year, Biden appointed Lisa Cook, the board’s first Black female governor, while the Boston Fed selected Susan Collins, the first Black female head of a reserve bank, as its new president.
At the Fed’s board in Washington, just 5% of employees are Hispanic. Among the economists, 7% are Latinos, who overall make up 19% of the US population. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari is the son of Indian immigrants, but no Asian American has served as a Board governor.
The lawmakers’ effort is the latest step in a years-long push by Menendez and other members of the Caucus to elevate a Latino to a top spot at the Fed. Lawmakers made similar calls recently when the Boston, Dallas, Chicago and Kansas City reserve bank presidencies were vacant. Kansas City has still not been filled, though its longtime leader Esther George retired at the end of last month.
A larger group of senators, led by Menendez, wrote a letter to Fed Chair Jerome Powell in June following the announcement of the Dallas Fed’s new president, who is not Latino, asking the central bank to take measures to help ensure a more standardized and transparent process for appointing leaders at the 12 reserve banks. The Dallas Fed district is about 40% Latino.
(Updates with White House comment in sixth paragraph. An earlier version corrected the reference to lack of Asian American leadership at Fed in seventh paragraph.)
--With assistance from Akayla Gardner.
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