By Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Randal Quarles as the Federal Reserve's top official on regulatory matters, filling a role critical to the Trump Administration's goal of lightening post-financial crisis regulations.
Quarles was confirmed as the Fed's vice chair for supervision after the Senate approved him as a member of the Fed board of governors by a vote of 65 to 32.
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The banking sector widely expects Quarles to play a key part in U.S. President Donald Trump's efforts to reduce the financial regulatory burden in an effort to spur economic growth.
He will be the leading voice on any modifications to stress tests, living wills, the so-called Volcker Rule banning proprietary bank trading and other major regulatory initiatives that emerged following the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
At his confirmation hearing in July, Quarles said he wanted to look at simplifying rules around many of those projects, arguing doing so would make it easier for banks to comply without reducing their effectiveness.
Democratic lawmakers who opposed Quarles pointed to his background and comments in favor of lighter regulations in voting against the pick.
Quarles is a former Wall Street lawyer and investor, and served in the U.S. Treasury Department under Republican Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
"Everything we know about Mr. Quarles says he will be fighting hard on behalf of the big banks," Senator Elizabeth Warren said on the Senate floor on Thursday.
He will also join the Fed as a voting member on monetary policy. At his confirmation hearing, Quarles backed away from his prior support for a rules-based approach to setting interest rates, bringing him more in line with the current approach of Fed officials.
Speaking at a Reuters Summit on Tuesday, Fed Governor Jerome Powell said he was delighted that Quarles’ appointment was progressing.
“I have known him for 25 years as a close friend, I think he’s a terrific appointment, and I look forward to reuniting with him. We worked together under the Bush Treasury 25 years ago, so I’m pleased about that,” adding that the Fed had been understaffed in recent months.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Meredith Mazzilli)