Duke Law School professor Sarah Bloom Raskin withdrew her nomination for vice chair for supervision of the Federal Reserve, citing opposition from other Senate members due to her stance on climate change.
United States President Joe Biden nominated Raskin, Colin W. Brown distinguished professor of the practice of law at Duke, for the position on Jan. 14, one that would have made her a powerful regulator in the banking world. Despite her previous appointment as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury from 2014 to 2017, she faced criticism from key senators, including U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
The Senate conducts a simple majority vote to confirm, reject or abstain presidential nominations to Senate-confirmed roles In opposition to Raskin’s nomination, Republican senators boycotted a vote to advance other Federal Reserve Board nominees. Once Manchin announced he was “unable to support her nomination,” it became clear the simple majority threshold would not be met and her nomination would not reach Senate confirmation, resulting in Raskin’s withdrawal.
Raskin notified Biden of her intention to withdraw through a public letter on March 15.
In the letter, she wrote that despite the “overwhelming bipartisan support and Senate confirmation” she experienced during her previous nominations, this recent nomination and confirmation series brought “relentless attacks by special interests.”
“Had the boycotting senators simply challenged my belief in the need to integrate climate-based risks and costs into the financial regulatory apparatus,” Raskin wrote, “I would have welcomed the opportunity for this important discussion.”
The “point of contention,” she clarified in the letter, was her “public discussion of climate change and the economic costs associated with it.”
She feels “many in and outside the Senate are unwilling to acknowledge the economic complications of climate change and the toll it has placed, and will continue to place, on Americans,” she wrote.
Citing the research on “energy security risk of climate change” that the Department of Defense has been engaged in for years, Raskin wrote, “this is not a novel or radical position.”
Raskin admitted that most American businesses, farmers and households have already endured “devastation, loss and destruction caused by extreme weather events.”
“They have suffered the consequences and shouldered the costs of prior episodes of government inattention to financial risks,” Raskin wrote. “The public understands that it will pay the price again for deliberate indifference by the government to harsh scientific and economic truths.”
Manchin wrote in a press release that he “carefully reviewed [Raskin’s] qualifications and previous public statements” before deciding to not support her, adding that the “Federal Reserve Board is not an institution that should politicize its critical decisions.”
Manchin has been reported to be one of the Senate’s largest recipients of campaign money from the coal, oil and gas industries.
In a statement, Biden wrote that Raskin’s nomination had broad support, “from the banking and financial services community, former members of the Board of Governors, multiple Nobel Prize winners, consumer advocates, and respected economists from around the country.”
"Despite her readiness—and despite having been confirmed by the Senate with broad, bipartisan support twice in the past—Sarah was subject to baseless attacks from industry and conservative interest groups," Biden wrote. "Unfortunately, Senate Republicans are more focused on amplifying these false claims and protecting special interests than taking important steps toward addressing inflation and lowering costs for the American people."
The withdrawal of Raskin’s nomination leaves the Biden administration without the regulatory voice they had hoped to include on the Federal Board. Biden urged the Senate Banking Committee to “move swiftly to confirm the four eminently qualified nominees for the Board of Governors—Jerome Powell, Lael Brainard, Philip Jefferson and Lisa Cook—who are still waiting for an up-or-down vote.”
“I have had a long career in which my integrity and character are matters of public record, and therefore I am not concerned with attacks on my character,” Raskin wrote in the letter. “I am deeply concerned, however, with the danger that this practice poses to the common good and the willingness of competent and devoted people to serve in government.”
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Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.