If Senate Democrats want to speed up the process of reaching the Christmas break, they'll have to allow a vote on an audit of the Federal Reserve.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday morning that he has informed leadership he will insist on the Senate consuming the entire 30 hours of post-cloture debate on the nomination of Janet L. Yellen to be chairwoman of the Federal Reserve unless he receives his vote on an "Audit the Fed" plan.
"We'll try and slow it down or stop it as much as we can. We've told them that we will allow it to move forward and expedite it if they will give us a vote on Audit the Fed," Paul said, noting that he has been unable to secure a Senate vote despite past support in the House.
"I just came from talking with our leadership and I said, 'I'll be happy to get out of the way.' I don't particularly like Yellen and I'll vote no, but the way the situation should work around here is holds and 30 hours of debate is something to be used as leverage to get something else that you want," Paul said. "I'm not opposed to the president nominating his people. I disagree with almost all of them ... but I'm not against the process of government moving forward, but it should be give-and-take. But right now there's all take on one side."
Paul has limited leverage except to slow down the process, particularly given the move by Democrats to effectively change the rules to prevent Republican from blocking nominees (though Yellen probably would've survived a debate-limiting vote either way).
The Federal Reserve chairmanship is one of 21 senior executive branch positions that still has 30 hours of debate allotted. Unlike in many other situations, the Democratic majority cannot yield back half of that time, and it will require unanimous consent to move the process along.
Late Monday, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed debate-limiting motions on 10 nominees, including Yellen. Of the nominees on that list, only Yellen comes with the 30 hours of debate. She is now the most high-profile nominee Reid wants confirmed by Christmas.