The White House is considering a number of senior officials in the federal government to replace top economist Brian Deese, including Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard and deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, a person familiar with the matter told CNN on Wednesday.
The process to replace Deese as head of the powerful National Economic Council remains ongoing and the situation is fluid, the person said. Brainard is seen as a leading contender, although the process is still underway and President Joe Biden has not made a final decision, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Deese has emerged as one of the faces of Biden’s economic agenda, frequently appearing on television to explain the administration’s views and policies. CNN has previously reported that Deese planned to step down.
Deese has long planned to depart in the first few months of this year and is playing a role in selecting his replacement. As head of Biden’s economic council, he has been the driving force behind the administration’s economic policy and legislative agenda for two years and has been one of the most powerful NEC directors in recent memory.
In addition to Brainard and Adeyemo, contenders to replace Deese include senior Biden adviser Gene Sperling, former secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell and deputy NEC director Bharat Ramamurti, the person familiar with the matter told CNN.
The Washington Post first reported the leading candidates to replace Deese.
The White House declined to comment.
Brainard was viewed as a leading contender to become Fed chair before Biden ultimately decided to renominate Jerome Powell. Brainard, a former Treasury official in the Obama administration and a Fed governor since 2014, was instead elevated to vice chair, the central bank’s No. 2 officials.
If Brainard were to take on the NEC role, it opens a critical position for Biden to fill at the Fed at a moment when the central bank’s rapid rate increases have raised concerns among some Democrats that the aggressive posture to tame inflation may have downside effects on the wider economy.
The Federal Reserve declined to comment.