Lisa Cook would be the first Black woman to serve on the seven-member board of the US Federal Reserve

Washington (AFP) - US President Joe Biden on Friday announced nominations to fill open positions on the Federal Reserve board, including the first Black woman to ever serve as a central bank governor.

The nominations will increase diversity on the Fed board and could sway policymaking at a time when the central bank is poised to hike lending rates to fight surging price increases, while also supporting the ongoing economic recovery.

If confirmed by the Senate, they would also create a majority of governors nominated by Democratic presidents on the board after the departure in recent months of two officials tapped by Republicans.

Lisa Cook, a nominee who is an economics professor at the University of Michigan, would be the first African American woman on the seven-seat board of governors.

And Philip Jefferson, of Davidson College, would be the fourth Black man to serve on the body.

For the powerful post of Fed vice chair for supervision, which oversees the nation’s banks, Biden tapped Sarah Bloom Raskin, a Democrat who served in top roles at the Treasury Department, as well as on the Fed board.

The White House said the officials “will bring long overdue diversity to the leadership of the Federal Reserve.”

Biden last year renominated Jerome Powell to a second term as Fed chair, and named board member Lael Brainard to serve as vice chair, which would also make the board majority women if all are confirmed by the Senate.

“We are at a moment of historic economic progress alongside unique economic challenges as we work to drive our recovery forward. This is a moment that calls for sound, independent leadership from the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve,” Biden said in a statement.

The nominees “will continue the important work of steering us on a path to a strong, sustainable recovery, while making sure that price increases do not become entrenched over the long term.”

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has objected to the re-appointment of Powell, a Republican, called Raskin “a tough and thoughtful financial regulator” and Cook “a first-class economist.”

“The Fed’s decisions over the coming months will determine whether working families continue to gain ground amidst rising prices caused by pandemic disruptions and concentrated corporate power,” Warren said in a statement.

“I’m fighting for a Federal Reserve that puts hard working American families –- not Wall Street bankers –- first.”

Patrick McHenry, the top Republican on the House Financial Services committee, which oversees the Fed in the lower house of Congress, said Raskin has “a long history of distinguished government service.”

“If confirmed, I urge former Governor Raskin to fulfill her core role as Vice Chair for Supervision – protecting the strength of our financial system, while promoting innovative solutions to address the many challenges facing our economic recovery,” he said in a statement.