U.S. senator moves to slow approval of Fed nominees

WASHINGTON Mon May 12, 2014 6:19pm EDT

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during the inaugural Freedom Summit meeting for conservative speakers in Manchester, New Hampshire April 12, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during the inaugural Freedom Summit meeting for conservative speakers in Manchester, New Hampshire April 12, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Rand Paul threatened on Monday to slow the approval of three Federal Reserve nominees unless the Senate agrees to vote on the Republican's bill to open monetary policy decisions to congressional audit.

If Paul puts a "hold" on the nominees, it would require the Senate to first vote to limit debate and then to vote on final approval. Republicans regularly force the Democrats who control the chamber to hold two votes on nominees.

Given that the nominees - Stanley Fischer, Lael Brainard and Jerome Powell - received unanimous and bipartisan support in the Senate Banking Committee, their eventual approval seems certain.

However, due to a tight legislative calendar ahead of a Memorial Day recess later this month, Paul's threat makes it more likely the normally seven-strong board at the Fed will drop to just three members for the first time in the U.S. central bank's history when Fed Governor Jeremy Stein steps down on May 28.

Democratic aides in the Senate said it was unclear whether a vote could be held before the recess, but that if not, it would be the first order of business after the recess.

Fischer, the former head of the Bank of Israel, has been nominated to be the Fed's vice chairman. Brainard, a former top U.S. Treasury official, has been nominated to a regular board seat. Powell already has a seat on the Fed board, but has been nominated to a fresh term.

Even if all three are approved, President Barack Obama will still have two board seats to fill.

Fed officials have staunchly opposed any legislation that would expose monetary policy decisions to congressional audit as a threat to their political independence.

(Reporting by Timothy Ahmann, additional reporting by Richard Cowan; editing by G Crosse)

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Comments (6)
SunnyDaySam wrote:
Do Republican’ts have ANYTHING besides obstruction, like something constructive for a change?? Evidently not – the party of Nothing has Nothing.

May 12, 2014 6:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
4825 wrote:
The democrats are the party for the rich. They don’t want the congress to have audit oversight of the fed because they want to watch out for their rich buddies, not to mention they are afraid of what you, the public, might learn. Sounds like the democrats want to obstruct the congress from having audit authority. Democrat = tax and spend and spend and spend some more.

May 12, 2014 7:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Robert76 wrote:
@4825. Are you kidding me? Look at all the spending by Bush’s administration without taxing to pay for that spending. While I hate the childishness of the Party of No, maybe the Democrats should do the same under next Republican President. Obstruct, Obstruct, Obstruct until everyone goes blind.

May 12, 2014 10:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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