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GOP aims to block vote on Biden Fed nominees over Sarah Bloom Raskin


U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) questions Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a hearing on “Examination of Loans to Businesses Critical to Maintaining National Security” before the Congressional Oversight Commission at Dirksen Senate Office Building, in Washington, December 10, 2020.

Sarah Silbiger | Pool | Reuters

Senate Republicans intensified their fight against one of President Joe Biden’s nominees to the Federal Reserve on Tuesday when they threatened a surprise boycott to disrupt a committee confirmation vote that is scheduled for later in the day.

The protest escalated a partisan feud over the president’s choice of Sarah Bloom Raskin to be the Fed’s next vice chair for supervision, one of the most powerful bank regulators in the world.

Republicans led by Senate Banking Committee ranking member Pat Toomey, R-Pa., have criticized Raskin for her prior work as a director of Reserve Trust, a fintech company that received a Federal Reserve master account while Raskin served on its board.

“Important questions about Ms. Raskin’s use of the ‘revolving door’ remain unanswered largely because of her repeated disingenuousness with the Committee,” Toomey said in a statement Tuesday morning.

“Committee Republicans aren’t seeking to delay her vote. We’re seeking answers,” he added. “Until basic questions have been adequately addressed, I do not think the Committee should proceed with a vote on Ms. Raskin.”

The boycott would deny Democrats on the committee a quorum to vote to recommend the president’s slate of nominees to the full Senate, a typical blessing presidential nominees receive before moving on to a floor vote.

If even one Republican committee member attends the meeting, Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, would have enough members present to hold a vote, and all five nominees would advance out of the committee. Toomey was confident Tuesday that no Republicans would attend.

That math could also pose a headache for incumbent Chair Jerome Powell, a Republican first nominated to lead the central bank by former President Donald Trump.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, has already said she will not support his nomination to a second term. If no Republicans attend the meeting, Powell risks only receiving 11 committee votes of the potential 24.

Brown could opt to hold committee votes on all of the Fed nominees minus Raskin while the GOP explores her business dealings. That would advance Biden’s other choices: Powell for a second term, Lael Brainard for vice chair, and Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson for the Fed’s board.

Brown fired back against Toomey and blasted the Republicans for threatening to skirt their obligations as lawmakers. He also told reporters separately that, as of late Tuesday morning, he plans to move forward as planned with the 2:15 p.m. ET committee vote.

“Today, Ranking Member Toomey chose to abdicate his duty to the American people and put our economic recovery at risk, instead of doing his job and…


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