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Senate Blocks President Trump's Controversial Nominee To The Federal Reserve Board

Judy Shelton's nomination as a member of the Federal Reserve Board is stalled.

The Senate failed to advance President Trump's controversial pick to the powerful central bank on Tuesday after Republicans Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine joined the Senate's Democrats in blocking Shelton's appointment.

The 47-50 vote also came as Sens. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, both supporters of Shelton, were absent from the chamber and unable to vote. They are at home because of exposure to the coronavirus.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris dealt another blow to Shelton, who was campaign adviser to Trump in 2016 and whose name was first floated for the position more than a year ago. The senator from California returned to the chamber for the first time since she and President-elect Joe Biden won to cast her vote against Shelton.

Shelton's confirmation was expected to be contentious among the GOP because of her unconventional economic views that place her well outside the mainstream. In the past, she questioned the mission of the central bank. She has also expressed support for the gold standard, which would tie the dollar to physical gold — a move that would sharply limit the amount of money in circulation.

The attempt to advance her confirmation for a term that runs through 2024 comes as the Fed will enter a critical stretch under Biden, with key decisions to be made on how much support the central bank can continue to provide to U.S. markets during the coronavirus pandemic.

After the rebuff on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly laid the groundwork for another potential vote.

However, it's unclear if the missing Scott and Grassley will be allowed to return this week. That could push another attempt to take up the Shelton vote until after the Senate's Thanksgiving recess.

But even then, the GOP may not have enough votes to overcome the deficit seen on Tuesday. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the chamber's majority whip, said it's unclear if Republicans' majority in the chamber could shrink by the time they return. Democratic Sen.-elect Mark Kelly of Arizona could replace Republican Sen. Martha McSally after the recess, Thune noted. Arizona is expected to certify the results of the special election by then.

"There is a little bit of a complicated factor there with the Arizona seat," Thune told a Capitol Hill pool reporter Tuesday.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.
Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.