A third Republican senator said he opposes the nomination of Judy Shelton to the Federal Reserve Board, adding drama to a confirmation vote that had been targeted for this week.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said in a statement Monday he is against President Donald Trump’s controversial pick, but a spokesman said the senator won’t be in Washington to vote on the nomination. That means approval could hinge on all Republican senators showing up and Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 49-49 tie.
Utah Republican Mitt Romney confirmed last week he remains opposed to Shelton, who has a history of advocating for a return to the gold standard, among other unorthodox economic views. Maine Republican Susan Collins also opposes the nomination, but centrist Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski said last week she would be voting in favor of Shelton’s nomination.
“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 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.”
Even without Alexander, Shelton — whose candidacy has languished for more than a year — should still have enough support to clear the Senate when votes are taken as soon as Tuesday. Last week Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana said he’s self quarantining for the coronavirus but his office has not yet indicated that he will be missing votes this week.
The floor vote at this point is likely to result in a 49 to 49 tie on the Senate floor, with all 47 Democrats and two independents voting “no.” Florida Republican Rick Scott announced Saturday that he is quarantining due to possible exposure to the coronavirus, and his spokesman confirmed Monday that he won’t be voting this week.
Pence would then be able to cast a tie-breaking vote to clear the nomination, as long as no other Republicans who support Shelton have to miss the vote.
At the end of the month, the math could be different. Arizona Senator-Elect Mark Kelly, a Democrat, will be seated after winning his special election, giving opponents the votes they need to keep Shelton off the board.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week set up a procedural vote, which would put Shelton on track to clear the Senate this week.