The ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee is seeking information from three regional Federal Reserve banks about their recent work on racial economic issues.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said certain Fed banks "have dedicated resources to social policy topics outside their area of expertise and that are reflective of the political and normative leanings of Federal Reserve Bank officials who are neither elected to political office nor confirmed by the Senate," in letters sent May 23 to the presidents of the Minneapolis, Atlanta and Boston Fed banks.
Mr. Toomey said he recognizes the interest in studying economic disparities along demographic lines, such as race and gender. "However, this subject matter is fraught with ideological assumptions and interpretations, and the work and analysis of the (Atlanta, Boston and Minneapolis Fed banks) seems heavily laden with political and value judgments," he added.
The senator requested additional materials and a briefing from the three Fed banks on their racial economic work by June 7.
A spokesman for the Boston Fed said its staff will carefully review Mr. Toomey's letter, while a spokeswoman with the Minneapolis Fed just confirmed that they had received the letter. An Atlanta Fed spokeswoman said in an email that they had received Mr. Toomey's letter and "we look forward to discussing with him how better understanding racial inequality helps the Federal Reserve reach its mandate of maximum employment and ensure economic gains are widely experienced across the population, regardless of race."
All 12 of the Fed's district banks have partnered to highlight the implications of racism in the U.S. and identify solutions as part of an ongoing program called "Racism and the Economy."
In March, Mr. Toomey sent a similar letter to Mary C. Daly, president and CEO of the San Francisco Fed, in which he requested documents related to that Fed banks' focus on climate change and social justice issues.
In a news release Monday, Mr. Toomey characterized his letters sent May 23 as an expansion of "his review of the increasing focus on politically charged issues, like global warming and racial justice, by regional Federal Reserve banks."