April 29, 2020 / 3:40 PM / a month ago

Republicans postpone vote on controversial Fed nominee Shelton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. Senate have postponed plans to advance Federal Reserve nominee Judy Shelton, according to a congressional source, heading off a fight over a figure who has drawn bipartisan skepticism for her controversial views.

The Republican-controlled Senate Banking Committee had scheduled a May 5 vote on Shelton’s nomination, which, if successful, would have cleared the way for her confirmation by the full chamber, the source said.

But a schedule released on Tuesday night indicated that the committee will not hold a vote after all.

Committee spokeswoman Amanda Critchfield confirmed that the panel will not hold a vote. She declined to comment further.

At a February hearing, Republicans and Democrats on the committee challenged Shelton’s independence from Republican President Donald Trump and characterized her thinking as too far outside the mainstream to trust with the nation’s economy.

Shelton backed away from her prior views at the hearing, saying she would not pursue a common currency with Canada and Mexico if confirmed as a Fed governor. She apologized for comparing a currency forger to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks.

Four previous Trump picks to be Fed appointees have failed to clear the Senate, a sign of the weight Congress has put on keeping the country’s monetary policy as free as possible of political interference.

The Fed has pumped trillions in emergency funding into U.S. financial markets to stem the damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

(See an animated graphic explaining the Fed's stimulus here)

It is expected on Wednesday to reiterate its promise to do whatever it takes to support the world’s largest economy.

Shelton’s prospects for confirmation appeared to improve when Republican Senator Pat Toomey, one of those who had subjected her to sharp questioning, said in late February he would support her. But her nomination has hung in limbo ever since.

It was not clear whether the Banking Committee would hold a vote at a later date.

Congress is struggling to figure out how to conduct its business in a manner that will protect lawmakers and staffers from possible infection from the novel coronavirus, which has now killed more Americans than the Vietnam War.

Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Heather Timmons and Jonathan Oatis

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