Shelton’s Fed Bid Faces New Drama as Third GOP Senator Says No
(Bloomberg) -- A third Republican senator said he opposes the nomination of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve Board, adding drama to a confirmation vote that had been targeted for this week.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said in a statement Monday he is against President Donald Trump’s controversial pick, but a spokesman said the senator won’t be in Washington to vote on the nomination. That means approval could hinge on whether all Republican senators who support Shelton show up -- even if Vice President Mike Pence is present to cast a tie-breaking vote.
“I oppose the nomination of Judy Shelton because I am not convinced that she supports the independence of the Federal Reserve Board as much as I believe the Board of Governors should,“ Alexander said in a statement. “I don’t want to turn over management of the money supply to a Congress and a President who can’t balance the federal budget.”
Utah Republican Mitt Romney confirmed last week he remains opposed to Shelton, who has a history of advocating for a return to the gold standard, among other unorthodox economic views. Maine Republican Susan Collins also opposes the nomination.
If Romney and Collins plus all 47 Democrats and independents are present to vote against Shelton, it would only take one more Republican opposing her or missing the vote to sink her nomination.
Without Alexander, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a tight margin to confirm Shelton -- whose candidacy has languished for more than a year. McConnell last week set up a procedural vote, which means the final vote could happen as soon as Tuesday.
Florida Republican Rick Scott announced Saturday that he is quarantining because to possible exposure to the coronavirus, and his spokesman confirmed Monday that he won’t be voting this week.
If Alexander and Scott are both absent, the floor vote would likely result in a 49 to 49 tie if all Democrats show up. Pence would then be able to cast a tie-breaking vote to clear the nomination, as long as no other Republicans who support Shelton have to miss the vote.
Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana was in self-quarantine last week after meeting with a staff member who tested positive for Covid-19, but he said in a statement Monday he would return to Washington Tuesday after he tested negative twice.
Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski said last week she would be voting in favor of Shelton’s nomination.
At the end of the month, the math could be different. Arizona Senator-Elect Mark Kelly, a Democrat, will be seated after winning his special election, giving opponents the votes they need to keep Shelton off the board.
Asked on Monday, if Republicans have the votes to confirm Shelton, John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate’s majority whip, said, “We hope so,” but added: “As you know, we have some attendance issues.”
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