WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House still backs Stephen Moore for a seat on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said on Monday, despite concerns among some Democratic lawmakers about his competence and past remarks.
“We’re still behind him, and he’s going through the process of vetting,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House.
Moore, who said on Sunday he was facing a “smear campaign,” has come under fire for comments about women and his out-of-the-mainstream economic views. Democrats also worry he is too political for the independent central bank.
Even some Republican senators are lukewarm.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told reporters on Monday that Moore had “a pretty common-sense approach to economics.”
“But does that qualify him to be a Fed member?” he asked, adding that he was withholding judgment for now.
Republican Senator Richard Shelby told reporters he had not committed to supporting Moore’s possible nomination and was concerned about the “drip by drip” of negative news stories about him. Shelby is a member of the Banking Committee, which would consider a Fed nomination.
In 2014, Moore wrote that family stability could be disrupted if women earned more than men, and in 2000 he opined that “women tennis pros don’t really want equal pay for equal work. They want equal pay for inferior work.” He has also called cities in the Midwest the “armpits of America.”
Moore has been criticized for voicing support for tying monetary policy decisions to commodity prices and for his fluctuating views on interest rates.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Monday the White House was reviewing Moore’s past comments.
Trump has yet to formally nominate the long-time economic commentator, who would need to be confirmed by the Senate to take the post.
There are currently two vacancies on the Fed’s board. Trump wanted to nominate businessman Herman Cain for the second vacancy, but Cain bowed out last week after it became clear he did not have the needed support in the Senate.
Kudlow said the administration was interviewing a number of candidates for that second Fed post.
Trump has frequently criticized the Fed for pushing borrowing costs up. Kudlow has said both he and the president feel rates should be lowered, a position Moore has also previously advocated.
On Monday, Kudlow told Fox Business Network that signs inflation was slowing “opens the door” to a rate cut.
The central bank last month brought a three-year rate-hike cycle to an end amid signs of slower global economic growth.
Reporting by Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Richard Cowan; writing by Tim Ahmann and Susan Heavey; editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Bill Berkrot and Lisa Shumaker