The Senate confirmed Christopher Waller to serve on the Federal Reserve Board, but the status of President Donald Trump’s second nominee, Judy Shelton, remained in limbo amid opposition from Democrats and some Republicans.
Senators voted 48-47 to put Waller on the U.S. central bank, concluding a confirmation process that had been dragged out for months because of controversy surrounding Shelton, who was nominated by Trump at the same time.
Waller becomes the fourth Trump pick to join the seven-member Fed board.
Waller is the research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and was once the teacher and mentor to his boss there, bank President James Bullard. Waller helped develop Bullard’s commitment to low interest rates and shares his view of the past four years that policy is in a new regime — where higher interest rates aren’t needed.
“We didn’t see any reason to raise rates just for the sake of raising rates,” Waller said in a June 2019 interview with Bloomberg Radio. He has declined interview requests since his nomination.
Waller’s research including his most-cited academic work has focused on central-bank independence. He’s called it a ”key tool” in ensuring that the government won’t misuse monetary policy for short-term political gain.
Shelton’s chances for confirmation have been dwindling since Democrats joined by three Republicans blocked action on her confirmation Nov. 17. The GOP lost a critical vote Wednesday when Arizona Democratic Senator-elect Mark Kelly was sworn in to replace GOP Senator Martha McSally.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists he still could try to confirm her before Trump’s term ends on Jan. 20, but he’s announced no schedule to do so.
While Trump could continue his push to get Shelton confirmed before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in, Republicans could lose control of the floor agenda on Jan. 5 when two Senate-seat special elections in Georgia determine control of the chamber. Even if the GOP keeps the Senate, McConnell may never get the votes he needs on Shelton without some unexpected absences by senators opposing her.
Trump previously worked to place four other people to fill the two vacant board seats, all of whom failed to make it to confirmation.
— With assistance by Steve Matthews
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