Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Wednesday that he would not resign if President Donald Trump asked him to.
Asked by Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, “If you get a call from the president today or tomorrow and he said ‘I’m firing you. Pack up and it’s time to go.’ What would you do?”
“Of course I would not do that,” Powell said during his testimony.
“I can’t hear you,” Waters replied, sparking laughter in the room.
“The answer would be ‘no,'” Powell said.
“You think the president doesn’t have the authority. Is that why you would not leave?” Waters asked.
“The law clearly gives me a four-year term and I fully intend to serve it,” Powell replied.
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell testifies during a full committee hearing on “Monetary Policy and the State of the Economy” on July 10, 2019 in Washington,DC.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
Trump has repeatedly lashed out at Powell for the Fed’s interest rate hikes and he has urged the central bank to slash rates, which traders are expecting later this month. The president also blamed Fed policy for undermining his aggressive trade negotiation tactics with China as well as for dampening the economic outlook.
Reports last month said the White House had explored the possibility of “legally demoting” the Fed chief after the central bank tightened monetary policy in December. Trump later said he “didn’t ever threaten to demote him” but said he would “be able to do that if [he] wanted.”
Powell also said in his testimony that the Fed will “act as appropriate” to sustain expansion as “crosscurrents” are weighing on the economic outlook. He noted business investments across the U.S. have slowed “notably” recently.