Judy Shelton, the controversial nominee to an empty seat on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, may lack the votes needed to win support from the Senate, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told reporters on Tuesday.
“We’re not going to bring it up until we have the votes to confirm her,” Thune said.
Shelton was an advisor to the campaign of President Donald Trump in 2016. For decades she advocated for a return to the gold standard, putting her far outside the mainstream of American economists, and last year argued in a Wall Street Journal column for greater coordination between the Fed and the White House when setting monetary policy.
The Fed has been a bright spot in the midst of a muddled government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst public health crisis in more than a century. The bond-buying program the central bank started in March has driven home-loan rates to all-time lows, bolstering the mortgage and housing markets.
Two GOP senators, Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), have said they will vote against Shelton because of her extreme views. Last month, more than two dozen former Federal Reserve officials wrote a letter to the Senate urging members to reject Shelton.
“The Federal Reserve is a vital part of our government and has been particularly important during our current crisis,” the letter said. “The Fed’s quick action to provide the markets with the necessary liquidity was crucial to restoring order to those markets and ensuring that the economic crisis that we are enduring did not become much, much worse. However, like the pandemic, the economic challenges persist.”
Shelton was opposed to monetary easing in the years after the Great Recession, when President Barack Obama was in the White House, then reversed course and called for reductions when Trump began demanding the Fed cut rates to below zero last year.
In July, Shelton’s nomination was approved by the Senate Banking Committee in a party-line vote, and she now needs approval by the full Senate.