Nov 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

Senate blocks Trump Fed pick Judy Shelton's confirmation

Judy shelton at a congressional hearing

Judy Shelton testifies before Congress in February. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump's controversial Fed pick Judy Shelton appears to be blocked from joining the central bank's board, for now — a dramatic turn of events, marred by two senators who were expected to support her, but were in quarantine for COVID-related concerns.

Why it matters: Some Republicans broke ranks and opposed Shelton, who in the past has endorsed fringe economic policies and reversed her beliefs to be more in line with those of Trump. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris cast a crucial vote against Shelton on Tuesday, with the final tally coming out to 50-47.

Yes, but: Sen. Mitch McConnell changed his vote to "no" — a strategy that could revive Shelton's nomination down the line.

Details: Shelton's last hurdles to confirmation looked like a lock late last week when Sen. Mitch McConnell invoked cloture on her nomination. That is until Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Tuesday that he was exposed to the coronavirus, forcing him to quarantine and miss the vote. Sen. Rick Scott was also absent as he quarantines.

  • On Monday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) came out against Shelton, but he was planning to be absent from the vote regardless.
  • Sens. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins voted against Shelton. Democrats unanimously opposed the nomination.

The big picture: All but one member of the Fed's seven-member board has been nominated by Trump.

  • Shelton is another setback for the president who's failed to fill the remaining two open slots on the Fed thanks to a string of unsuccessful candidates who have been unable to move forward — including the late Herman Cain and Stephen Moore.

What to watch: Still no word on a full Senate vote on Christopher Waller, director of research at the St. Louis Fed and the far less controversial candidate nominated by Trump.

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