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Democratic proposal aims to boost diversity at regional Fed banks

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is reintroducing a bill aimed at increasing the diversity of the Federal Reserve's top leaders.

The proposal would require the boards of the 12 regional Fed banks to interview at least one woman and one minority candidate when they hire a bank's president. It follows criticism from community groups and Democrats over recent hires at the central bank, a debate that intensified after the New York Fed board picked John Williams to become its next president and CEO.

Seven of the 12 regional Fed districts are currently headed by white men. Raphael Bostic became the first African American regional Fed president when he was appointed to lead the Atlanta Fed in 2017.

In a news release, Harris said increased diversity at the Fed will broaden the perspectives among top policymakers and "will produce better outcomes for the American people."

The proposal is similar to the so-called Rooney Rule that the National Football League put in place in 2003 to boost diversity among its teams' head coaches. The rule is named after former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney and requires that teams interview at least one minority candidate for coaching vacancies.

Harris' proposal would also require that the regional Fed districts send a report to the relevant committees in Congress with demographic information on candidates who were interviewed. The title for the top Federal Reserve leader, currently Jerome Powell, would also change from "chairman" to "chair" under the proposal.

Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, has introduced a companion bill in the House.