Senate Just Barely Confirms Bernstein as Biden's Economic Adviser

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Senate on Tuesday narrowly confirmed Jared Bernstein to be the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

A longtime aide to President Joe Biden and an economist focused on workers, Bernstein was confirmed by a vote of 50-49.

Republican lawmakers were critical of his claims early in the administration that the high inflation coming out of the pandemic was temporary. Rising costs for families and businesses have been a challenge for Biden, though the Labor Department said Tuesday that the pace of inflation fell in May to 4%, the lowest 12-month figure for consumer prices in more than 12 years.

The Biden administration provided $1.9 trillion worth of pandemic relief in 2021, which some economists and Republican leaders say triggered inflation. Bernstein, then a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, defended the president for the job gains that occurred because of the government spending and said the high prices would be "transitory." But by July 2022, he backed away from the "transitory" phrasing because it "led to a level of ambiguity that wasn't serving the debate very well."

By being elevated to chairman, Bernstein, 67, is succeeding Cecilia Rouse, who returned to Princeton University earlier this year. Bernstein has long been close to Biden and worked as a vice presidential aide to him during Barack Obama's presidency. Bernstein received his doctoral degree in social welfare from Columbia University.

Created in 1946, the Council of Economic Advisers provides guidance to the president on economic trends and government polices.