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GOP senators sound optimistic about Trump's new Fed picks

Jim Saksa, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- A week after President Donald Trump tweeted his intention to nominate Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller to the Federal Reserve Board, GOP senators are expressing cautious optimism about both picks, despite Shelton's unorthodox views on monetary policy.

They're at least better than the president's previous two picks -- Stephen Moore and Herman Cain dropped out before they were officially nominated -- said Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Alabama. "Well, we haven't evaluated them yet, but the previous two were lacking in a lot of things," he said.

The Cain and Moore choices were considered scuttled after at least four Republicans said they would vote against them.

Like Cain and Moore, Shelton has long advocated a U.S. to return to the gold standard, a position opposed by most economists, and has changed from a fierce critic of easy money policies during President Barack Obama's tenure to an outspoken dove since Trump took office. That reversal has led critics to question whether she'd uphold the Fed's reputation for apolitical, data-driven decision making.

"I'm concerned about how political she is," said Senate Banking Committee ranking member Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Shelby, who previously was chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and still sits on it, also indicated concern for the Fed's independence.

 

"We need qualified people," Shelby said, declining to speak directly about Shelton's nomination. "That's a high bar."

"I think Chairman (Jerome) Powell has done a good job," Shelby added. "He might not please me day-to-day, but their independence is important."

His Republican colleagues on the committee, which would hold the confirmation hearings, sounded more supportive of the pick.

"Based on what I've read about (Shelton) -- I haven't seen her in committee yet -- she's very intelligent, thoughtful person who has a lot of experience," said Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, who also spoke highly of Waller.

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