Asked by Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, whether he would pack up and leave if the president called to say he was fired, Powell said, “Of course I would not do that.”
“My answer would be no,” he said, during his Wednesday testimony on Capitol Hill.
“You would not pack up and you would not leave?” the California Democrat repeated.
“No ma’am,” Powell said.
Waters pushed back: “Because the president doesn’t have the authority?”
“I’ve said what I’ve intended to say on the subject,” Powell said. “And what I’ve said is the law clearly gives me a four-year term, and I intend to serve it.”
The comments come amidst heightened tensions between Powell and the president, who’s repeatedly lashed out at the U.S. central bank for raising interest rates too frequently in 2018 — while also urging policymakers to cut rates at the upcoming July meeting.
Trump handpicked Powell more than a year ago, but has not shied away from criticizing the central bank head. On Friday, Trump derided the Fed as the “most difficult problem” facing the U.S.
“They raised rates too soon, too often, & tightened, while others did just the opposite,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “As well as we are doing from the day after the great Election, when the Market shot right up, it could have been even better – massive additional wealth would have been created, & used very well. Our most difficult problem is not our competitors, it is the Federal Reserve!”
In his prepared remarks, however, Powell hinted at the possibility of a rate cut in July, pointing to uncertainty surrounding U.S.-China trade, softening economic growth and muted inflation.
“Based on incoming data and other developments, it appears that uncertainties around trade tensions and concerns about the strength of the global economy continue to weigh on the U.S. economic outlook. Inflation pressures remain muted,” he said in prepared remarks for the House Financial Services Committee.