Fed nominee Shelton set for tight vote as Lamar Alexander declares opposition

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Sen. Lamar Alexander on Monday said he opposes President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve, a further sign that the Republican leadership has little room for error in getting the controversial nominee confirmed.

Alexander (R-Tenn.) — who will not be in town for the vote this week, according to his spokesperson — joins Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) in resisting Shelton’s confirmation to the U.S. central bank. Shelton has faced skepticism over her unorthodox views, such as her support for tying the value of the dollar to gold and a sudden shift in her long-held policy views that put her more in line with those of Trump.

She has also downplayed the importance of the Fed’s ability to make decisions independent of short-term political considerations, a stance that Alexander cited as particularly objectionable to him.

“I oppose the nomination of Judy Shelton because I am not convinced that she supports the independence of the Federal Reserve Board as much as I believe the Board of Governors should,” Alexander, who is retiring from the Senate, said in a statement. “I don’t want to turn over management of the money supply to a Congress and a President who can’t balance the federal budget.”


Alexander is close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, so there’s little chance the GOP leader was surprised by the Tennessee lawmaker’s position. And GOP leaders opted to move forward with Shelton because they believed they had the votes.

Still, the Senate’s attendance has been unpredictable during the pandemic, and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) is expected to be in quarantine this week after coming into contact with someone who later tested positive for Covid-19. The Senate GOP needs to move on Shelton before Democrat Mark Kelly, the victor this month in a Senate race in Arizona, is sworn in to take the place of Republican Sen. Martha McSally after Thanksgiving.

Shelton can be confirmed as long as there is at least an equal number of yeas and nays, which would allow Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote.

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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