If Biden reappoints Jerome Powell as Fed Chair (until 2026), the result will be four Trump, one Obama, and two Biden appointees on the Fed Board for the foreseeable future. That is a direct threat to Biden’s agenda, values, and priorities, including the economic recovery, climate, racial justice, equality, competition, and financial regulation. However, if he appoints Gov. Lael Brainard as Chair, Biden will then get to nominate at least four and likely five Fed positions, putting his imprint on the Fed for years, if not decades to come.
Here’s how the numbers work: there is one open seat now (1). Replacing Chair Powell when his term ends on Feb. 5, 2022 with Brainard (2) opens her seat to be filled (3). Vice Chair Clarida’s term ends on January 31, 2022 (4). Randy Quarles’ term ends on Jan. 31, 2032, but he isn’t like to stay as a governor with four Democrats and three Republicans once he is no longer Vice Chair for Supervision on October 13, 2020 or FSB Chair on December 18, 2021. Ironically, if Biden reappoints Powell, that incentivizes Quarles to stay at least until the 2022 mid-term elections because (a) that would give Powell a working majority of Trump appointees, (b) he and Powell could frustrate any attempt to roll back their three years of deregulation, and (c) if Republicans retake the Senate in 2022, Republicans will get to decide his replacement, including leaving the position vacant to create a 3-3 deadlock on key issues with Powell still Chair. Thus, Biden is likely to get to nominate a fifth person for the Fed.
Biden would also get to nominate one of the governors to be Vice Chair for Supervision. However, if he reappoints Powell, anyone qualified would be reluctant to take the position because Powell and Quarles will prevent that person from being effective. This is more so because Trump’s Republican Chair of the FDIC has stated her intent to serve out her term until June 2023, giving Republicans control of two of the three banking agencies.