The Biden administration saw a key figure of its financial-regulatory team move into place as the Senate confirmed Michael Barr to become the government’s most influential banking regulator.
Barr’s confirmation Wednesday as the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman for supervision provides the central bank with a full seven-member board for the first time in nearly a decade and adds to a group of Biden-appointed bank overseers who may revisit financial regulations that were eased during the Trump administration.
Barr won bipartisan support for the regulatory role, which has a four-year term. The vote was 66-to-28, surpassing the 50 votes needed for confirmation. Earlier on Wednesday, senators confirmed Barr to a 10-year term on the Fed’s governing board.
A dean of public policy at the University of Michigan, Barr is the last of Mr. Biden’s slate of five appointees to the central bank. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and three other appointments were confirmed in recent months.
The supervision role that Barr is set to fill is responsible for developing a broad vision for the regulation of big banks and other financial firms. That includes developing policy recommendations for the Fed board and for overseeing its regulatory staff, which supervises some of the largest U.S. financial firms, including JPMorgan Chase & Co
Bank of America Corp
and Citigroup Inc
Randal Quarles, who previously held the Fed supervision post, focused on simplifying financial regulations enacted after the 2008-09 financial crisis, moves that supporters have said clarified or better calibrated the central bank’s rules but that some Democrats said significantly softened the impact of the Wall Street rulebook. Quarles left the Fed in December.
Barr is expected to weigh in on a Biden administration push to review the way regulators assess the mergers of large banks, a process in its early stages that could make bank tie-ups more difficult.
Barr had stints in the U.S. Treasury Department during the Clinton and Obama administrations, including as a top lieutenant to then Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Barr played a role as an architect of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.
Barr’s confirmation is a victory for the Biden administration after multiple regulatory nominees failed to gain traction in the evenly divided Senate.