White House says judge Fed nominee Raskin on her credentials, not marriage

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FILE PHOTO: Sarah Bloom Raskin, in her role as Deputy Treasury Secretary, participates in an open meeting of the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans in Washington

By Jeff Mason and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday rejected concerns that Sarah Bloom Raskin would be unable to maintain independence at the Federal Reserve given that her husband led impeachment proceedings against former President Donald Trump.

Raskin, U.S. President Joe Biden's nominee as the Fed's vice chair for supervision, should be judged on her "impeccable credentials" and not her marriage to Representative Jamie Raskin, who served as the lead Democratic prosecutor for the unsuccessful 2021 impeachment trial, Psaki told reporters.

"I think she can stand on her own qualifications, not just because she's a woman, but because she's done a lot in her career," Psaki said. "She has been said by many to be the most qualified person to be nominated to this role, which I think is probably more important than who she's married to."

Raskin, a former Fed governor and senior Treasury Department official who is strongly backed by progressive Democrats, has become a lightning rod for criticism from business groups and fiscal conservatives for her views on climate change.

Psaki told reporters Raskin had pledged her commitment to the independent role of the Federal Reserve and would work with her colleagues to mitigate a range of risks, if confirmed.

"Just like any nominee, she should be judged by qualifications," Psaki said. "Her experience and her impeccable credentials were the determinant in her being nominated for this role, and I think it's a little questionable for anyone to raise otherwise."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week sent an unprecedented letter to lawmakers https://www.reuters.com/business/us-chamber-issues-rare-warning-fed-nominee-raskin-citing-oil-gas-views-2022-01-28 raising concerns about Raskin and her calls for federal regulators to transition financing away from the fossil fuel industry.

On Monday, 24 members of the fiscally conservative State Financial Officers Foundation, representing 21 states, urged Biden to withdraw Raskin's nomination, warning that what they called her "radical banking and economic views" could shut oil and gas companies out of bank loans and send energy costs sharply higher.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown last week said he met with Raskin and Biden's nominees for two other Fed jobs, and said there was no question that they were qualified.

Administration officials say Raskin's views on climate change are in line with public comments by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

But the top Republican on the panel, Pat Toomey, has blasted Raskin for what he called "demonstrated hostility" toward the oil and gas sector.

The committee, which must approve the Fed nominees before they are considered by the full Senate, will hold a confirmation hearing on Thursday for Raskin and two Black economists nominated for the board, Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Lincoln Feast.)