Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee will block votes on President Biden’s five Federal Reserve nominees, the top GOP senator on the panel announced Tuesday.
In a Tuesday statement, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said GOP members of the Banking panel will not show up for scheduled votes on Biden’s choices to serve on the Fed board, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell. A Senate committee needs at least two members from the minority party to be able to conduct official business, including the approval of presidential nominees.
Toomey said Republican senators decided to block votes on all of Biden’s nominees after Democrats refused to hold back Sarah Bloom Raskin’s nomination to be Fed vice chair of supervision. While Toomey said Raskin’s policy views were “alone disqualifying,” he argued the committee needed more information about her previous employment she refused to provide before advancing her nomination to the Senate floor.
“Important questions about Ms. Raskin’s use of the ‘revolving door’ remain unanswered largely because of her repeated disingenuousness with the Committee,” Toomey said.
“Until basic questions have been adequately addressed, I do not think the Committee should proceed with a vote on Ms. Raskin.”
The Banking committee was scheduled to vote Tuesday on Raskin’s nomination along with four others: Powell’s renomination as Fed chair, Lael Brainard’s nomination to be Fed vice chair, and the nominations of Lisa Cook and Phillip Jefferson to serve as members of the Fed board of governors.
Under Senate rules, nominees must be recommended by the committees with jurisdiction over their agencies before the full chamber can vote on the confirmation.
Toomey claimed Raskin, who served on the Fed board during the Obama administration, refused to answer questions about her work with Reserve Trust, a financial company she advised from May 2017 through August 2019. Republicans have raised concerns about her attempt to help Reserve Trust receive a charter to access the Fed’s payment transmission system after an initial failed attempt, along with her decision to sell her shares in the company for $1.5 million 2020.
The Federal Reserve of Kansas City said this month Reserve Trust was given access after making adjustments to its business model and that the bank did not deviate from its normal review process.
Raskin had also been fiercely criticized by Republican senators for calling on the Fed to reject fossil fuel companies from pandemic emergency lending programs set up in 2020. She had also urged federal regulators to use more power to fight climate change through the financial system, particularly through new rules meant to protect against climate-related financial risks.
As Fed vice chair of supervision, Raskin would lead oversight of major banks and spearhead its regulatory agenda. Republicans argue Raskin has proven she would use her immense power to steer capital away from fossil fuel companies, but she explicitly ruled out doing so during her confirmation hearing.
Several current Fed officials, including Powell and Brainard, have also shot down using bank rules to penalize fossil fuel companies.