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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today set up a procedural vote for Thursday on two nominees to join the Federal Reserve whose nominations have stalled because of opposition from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).
“These two Fed nominations and Fed monetary policy are tremendously important matters,” Vitter said in a statement. “Because they are, and because I have serious concerns with the Fed’s activist, easy money policies, I’ve been demanding this upcoming Senate debate and vote rather than just rubber-stamping all this with no debate.”
Vitter blocked attempts in March to quickly confirm Harvard University economics professor Jeremy Stein, a Democratic nominee, and former private-equity executive Jerome Powell, a Republican nominee.
At the time, the Louisiana Republican criticized the board for its bond-buying programs and other efforts to stimulate the economy, saying in a written statement that he opposes the Fed’s “activist policies.”
Asked whether he was confident that he would have the 60 votes to invoke cloture on the nominations, Reid said, “Well I sure hope so, we’ve been waiting months and months.”
“It’s important we have a fully-functioning Fed,” Reid continued. “One of the things we want them to do is finish the rules that they’ve been asked to do on the Dodd-Frank [financial industry reform] bill that we did. We expect those to be in July, I would suggest they start working a little overtime, get them done before then.”
“So yes, I hope we can get that done. It would be the right thing for the country,” Reid said. “We’ve only had one announced person holding up these nominations: Sen. Vitter from Louisiana.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he believes there is bipartisan support for the nominees.
“I haven’t looked carefully at it, but my impression is that there is bipartisan support,” McConnell said today. “One of the nominees is a Republican. And we’ll see what happens tomorrow when — or Thursday, when we likely vote on it.”
A Democratic leadership aide called the two nominees “outstanding” candidates “who are currently languishing due to Republican obstruction.”
Without the two nominees in place, the Federal Reserve Board will remain short-handed as it attempts to support the economic recovery, the aide said.