February 15, 2022

Brown: Republicans Have Walked Out on the American People

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, delivered the following remarks during a meeting with Banking Committee members. 

Sen. Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

In a little over a year since President Biden took the oath of office, we’ve seen the American economy come roaring back.

We’ve added 6.6 million new jobs—a record for any President’s first year in office. For the first time in two decades, our economy grew faster than China’s last year.

We’ve made tremendous economic progress. And the nominees we are supposed to vote on today are crucial to continuing that progress. Sandra Thompson, to be Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and five Federal Reserve nominees: Jay Powell (Chair), Lael Brainard (Vice Chair), Sarah Bloom Raskin (Vice Chair for Supervision), Lisa Cook (Governor), Philip Jefferson (Governor).

But instead of showing up to work, to do their job, Republicans have walked out on the American people.

My Republican colleagues claim that it is because they haven’t gotten the information they’ve requested from one of the nominees. Let me be clear: Ms. Bloom Raskin has been the subject of an unrelenting smear campaign and fear mongering by the Ranking Member and Republicans – something that’s become all too common.

They’ve distorted her words and painted her as some sort of radical. As we heard during her nomination hearing, in her own words, Ms. Bloom Raskin is a mainstream economic thinker. She is not in the business of telling banks whom to lend to. Her views on climate are not extreme. They are about accounting for risks that that threaten our financial system, wherever we find them. As she has said over and over again, this is about economic and financial system resilience.

But the attacks on Ms. Bloom Raskin haven’t stopped there. They’ve become more personal. They can’t attack her on substance, so they’ve engaged in malicious character assassination—in innuendo—without offering a shred of evidence.

Throughout this entire process—from day one—she has been fully transparent. She has gone to great lengths to respond quickly to the Committee, including providing the Committee with the required paperwork, meeting with Committee staff prior to her nomination hearing to answer questions, and promptly responding to the Committee’s request for additional information. After her nomination hearing, Ms. Bloom Raskin received 180 questions for the record—the most of any nominee in recent memory.

The Ranking Member expressed concerns with Ms. Bloom Raskin’s responses to his submitted questions. I agreed to carefully review her responses with my staff.

After reviewing her responses, I do not share the Ranking Member’s concerns. Ms. Bloom Raskin answered every single question.

Now Republicans have fled the room – hiding rather than vote on a fair and experienced nominee. 

Sarah Bloom Raskin has been confirmed by the entire Senate unanimously twice before. Nothing about her or her approach to this job have changed. 

As Cam Fine, former head of the ICBA said yesterday, “A few lawmakers appear not to believe Raskin’s assurances she won’t meddle directly in affairs at financial institutions, but I believe her, and so do my fellow bankers. After all, if she had any inclination to tell bankers what to do, surely she would have done so while at the Fed or Treasury previously. She didn’t because she knows and understands the role of a bank regulator.”

All five Fed nominees have run the gauntlet: they have offered to meet with Senators – on and off this Committee, Republican and Democratic. They have gone through hearings. They have answered questions for the record.

They have received an unprecedented amount of support from across the political spectrum—from the banking industry, state regulators, economists, former government officials, consumer groups, civil rights advocates, and many more.

At this pivotal moment in our economy, everyone understands that we need a full Federal Reserve board – the first one in nearly a decade.

The lawyers in this body probably know the old adage – when you have the law on your side, pound the law; when you have the facts on your side, pound the facts; and when you have neither – pound the table.

Ranking Member Toomey and my Republican colleagues have nothing on their side. So today, they’re pounding the table.

After agreeing upon dates for both a hearing and markup, they are now objecting to voting on a nominee because they don’t like the answers provided – just a delay tactic.

We know where they stand. Mitch McConnell told us on the Senate floor today – asking President Biden to withdraw the nomination of a twice-confirmed regulatory expert who has the broad support of banks, state regulators, consumer advocates, and so many others.

I hear Senators from both sides of the aisle speak about their concerns both about inflation and how this nation will emerge from a global pandemic.

Few things we do as Senators will do more to help address our country’s economic concerns more than to confirm this slate of nominees, the most diverse and most qualified slate of Fed nominees ever put forward.

It’s time for actions to match words. I urge my Republican colleagues to return to the table, to vote their conscience, and let the Senate fulfill its solemn duties.

I will delay votes on these nominees today. We will update you all when we have rescheduled.