(MAINNEWS) – WASHINGTON, U.S. President Joe Biden is still weighing candidates for new top economic advisers, officials familiar with the process said, and no final decisions are expected before next week’s State of the Union speech.
Biden is focused on Tuesday’s address to Congress and had not made a decision on the top jobs at the National Economic Council (NEC) and the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), officials said.
Biden aides have considered candidates including Lael Brainard, the Federal Reserve vice chair, for NEC director, and long-time Biden confidant Jared Bernstein for CEA chair, according to people familiar with the process.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Emilie Simons disputed a Politico report on Wednesday that said decisions about Brainard and Bernstein were “close to assured.”
“There is no decision on either of these positions and any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate,” Simons said.
Biden is making over his top economic team as the Fed continues to hike interest rates but the U.S. labor market remains tight, raising the prospect of an unusual recession without significant job losses.
The next NEC director and CEA chair will help shape the Democratic Biden administration’s economic policy, from executive orders to congressional spending bills and raising the debt limit, in the face of a more hostile U.S. House of Representatives, now controlled by Republicans.
Other candidates for the NEC job include Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Reuters reported last week.
Brainard, a Harvard-educated Democrat who has been at the Fed for nearly a decade and served as Treasury’s top international affairs expert under President Barack Obama, would replace Brian Deese at the NEC.
Only the CEA job requires Senate confirmation.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said she is staying on for the second half of Biden’s four-year term. Biden last week named businessman and former COVID-19 policy coordinator Jeff Zients as his next chief of staff.
Brainard was widely floated as the frontrunner for Treasury secretary when Biden came to office, only for him to pick Yellen instead. Brainard also lost out on the top job at the U.S. central bank in late 2021, when Biden opted to renominate Jerome Powell, a Republican, as Fed chair.
Bernstein, a long-time Biden adviser on the CEA is one of the candidates who would succeed current chair Cecilia Rouse when she heads back to Princeton University in March. Most universities allow tenured professors to take only a two-year leave of absence.
Deese, who told David Rubinstein last year the job was challenging and “your time is never your own,” is expected to step down in coming weeks.
by Andrea Shalal and Trevor Hunnicutt