Michael Barr, a professor and former top official at the Treasury Department, was confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday as the nation’s top banking regulator.
Barr was appointed as both a member of the Federal Reserve Board and its vice chair for supervision, a position which has oversight over the Fed’s regulation of the country’s largest banks. He was confirmed by a 66-28 vote, with more than a dozen Republicans joining Democrats to approve his candidacy.
Barr is the current dean for the school of public policy at the University of Michigan Law School. He had a prominent role in drafting the Dodd-Frank Act and has served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations. He was the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for financial institutions from 2009-10.
Barr will be the first vice chair for supervision at the Fed since Randal Quarles’s time in the role expired in October 2021. Fed Chair Jerome Powell, a Trump administration appointee, was confirmed to a second term by the Senate in May.
Barr was nominated to the Fed by President Joe Biden in April after the candidacy of Biden’s first choice for the supervision role fell apart. Sarah Bloom Raskin, who had served on the Fed board from 2010-14, withdrew her name from consideration in March. Her nomination was fiercely opposed by Republicans, but it became clear she would not receive enough votes to be successful when Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) indicated he would not support her bid.
The key sticking point for Republicans was their focus on past statements by Raskin that, if nominated, she would seek to curb lending by Wall Street to the oil and gas industry as a way to address climate change. In his hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Barr assured lawmakers he did not believe the Fed had the power to do that.