Sen. Shelby says he won't block Shelton for Fed; Kennedy remains undecided
Posted March 3, 2020 5:15 p.m. EST
CNN — A key Republican senator said Tuesday that he would not vote to block President Donald Trump's controversial Federal Reserve nominee, Judy Shelton, if other GOP senators who have expressed misgivings about her also decide to back her.
"I will not be the one to kill her nomination," said Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, a senior member of the Banking Committee who has raised concerns about whether Shelton would be independent from the White House.
"I try to help the administration. I have some misgivings about her, I raised them in the Banking Committee. But if the other Republicans want her, I'd vote to confirm her," Shelby said.
Shelby had said last month during Shelton's confirmation hearing that he was "troubled" over some of her writings and what others had written about her views and papers, particularly on advocating for the return of the gold standard. He also questioned whether she might be an "outlier" on the interest-rate policy-setting committee for a post that could last for up to 14 years.
Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said he is still undecided on Shelton's nomination, however. If he backs her in committee, she would likely be confirmed. But if he votes her down, her nomination could be sunk, an embarrassing setback for Trump, who has seen two other Fed nominees get blocked. Republicans have only a one-seat advantage on the committee.
Kennedy was asked if he might take a stance similar to Shelby's.
"I have not made a decision," Kennedy told CNN, adding that he is still reviewing Shelton's op-eds and books. "Around here I don't always fit in, and that's one of my best qualities."
Kennedy also aired concerns at Shelton's hearing, pressing her on what she would do if the US economy were to fall into a recession.
Democratic senators also had grilled Shelton, describing her as flip-flopping on decades of her work in order to align herself more closely with the President's views.
The chairman of the Banking Committee, Sen. Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, said he has been working to resolve members' concerns about Shelton and won't schedule a committee vote until that happens.
"It's my expectation that we will get it worked out and as soon as we do, we'll move," he said.
A week ago, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, another reluctant Republican on the committee, said he would vote to confirm Shelton, after she relieved his concerns about her views on devaluing the dollar.
Shelton has long advocated for returning to the gold standard, which the United States abandoned in 1971. She's argued that the policy would make the dollar less susceptible to inflation or other volatility -- a view the majority of US economists believe would be disastrous for the US economy.
She has also advocated interest rate cuts, echoing the President's criticism of his Fed chairman, Jerome Powell, and has openly questioned the effectiveness of the members of the Fed's interest rate policy-setting committee.