WASHINGTON Oct 31 A senior Republican on the
Senate Banking Committee said on Thursday he would oppose
efforts to block the nomination of Janet Yellen as Federal
Reserve chairwoman with a filibuster unless some disturbing
"I don't think I would filibuster a Fed nominee unless
something came up that was just horrible," Alabama Senator
Richard Shelby told Reuters Insider. "But that doesn't mean I
won't speak against them, vote against them, work against them."
Shelby's sentiments are important because Democrats would
need to pick up only five Republican votes to clear procedural
hurdles to bring Yellen's nomination to a vote in the Senate
where confirmation needs only a simple majority.
Democrats control the chamber 55 to 45.
"I don't believe we have ever filibustered a Fed chairman,"
Shelby said shortly after meeting with Yellen for about 40
minutes. "That job is so, so important. That doesn't mean I
haven't voted against some. I have. I have supported some too."
Shelby's views are not shared by all Republicans.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has said he intends to place a
"hold" on Yellen's nomination unless the Senate leadership
allows for a vote on legislation he has sponsored that would
open the Fed's monetary policy decisions to congressional audit.
Senator Lindsey Graham has also vowed an effort to block
White House nominees unless the Obama administration comes
forward with more information about the 2012 attack on U.S.
diplomats in Benghazi, Libya.
Democrats are confident they will be able to round up the
votes needed to prevent any attempt to obstruct a vote on
Yellen's nomination. President Barack Obama tapped Yellen,
currently the central bank's vice chairwoman, to succeed Fed
Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term expires on Jan. 31.
Although Shelby said Yellen should face an up-or-down vote,
he made clear he had concerns about her nomination, although he
said it was too early to say how he would vote.
"I have some concerns about the nominee," he said. "Also, I
have a lot of concerns about the role of the Fed ... the
portfolio of the Fed."
Many Republicans worry the central bank is courting sharply
higher inflation and planting the seeds for asset bubbles with
its aggressive easing of monetary policy. The Fed cut interest
rates to near zero in 2008 and has roughly quadrupled its
balance sheet to $3.80 trillion through a series of bond
"Will this go on forever? When will it end? What will be the
repercussions? There are a lot of serious complex questions
here," said Shelby, who voted against Yellen's nomination as
vice chairwoman in 2010.
He said he planned to explore those issues in detail when
Yellen comes before the banking panel for a hearing.
The committee, which vets the nomination before it goes to
the Senate, is considering holding a hearing on Nov. 14.