WASHINGTON — When Jerome Powell, President Trump’s nominee to head the Federal Reserve, goes before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday for his confirmation hearing, it will not be the first time — or even the first time this year — that he’s faced tough questions from lawmakers.
All the same, coming before a committee as a quasi-interim head of supervision
and facing a panel as the potential next leader of the world’s most powerful central bank makes a significant difference.
It helps that Powell is a relatively known quantity at the Fed and has been laying out
some of his regulatory positions
since he took over as the head of the Fed’s supervisory committee in April. Powell has also been confirmed by the Senate twice already, in 2012 by a vote of 74-21 and in 2014 by a vote of 67-24.
That said, there is still plenty for lawmakers to raise questions about, including his views on key issues he hasn’t addressed. It also remains unclear to what extend his positions might shift when he is atop the Fed’s hierarchy compared to his past positions iterated when he was in a supporting role.
The Fed’s monetary policy levers also have the potential to put a damper on the Trump administration’s stated policy of accelerating growth via tax cuts and other stimulative measures, so whatever signals he sends about interest rates will be watched closely.
There is a strong possibility that the policies that will ultimately most affect banks and their regulatory and supervisory structure simply haven’t been devised yet and likely won’t be for another six to 12 months. But what lawmakers ask him about now and how responds can say a lot about what shape those policies might ultimately take.
Here's what to watch for at the hearing: