Rand Paul To Block Yellen Nomination Over Fed Audit Bill
Senator Rand Paul says that he he will block the nomination of Janet Yellen to replace Ben Bernanke as the head of the Federal Reserve Board in order to force a vote on his bill to audit the institution:
Sen. Rand Paul said on Tuesday that he plans to place a hold on Janet Yellen’s nomination to be Federal Reserve chair to try and force a vote on a bill he argues would increase transparency at the central bank.
Paul has been hinting for weeks he would make the move and on Tuesday the Kentucky Republican confirmed he will take this step absent a vote on the Audit the Fed bill first championed by his father — former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)
“I don’t think technically you can file a hold until she comes out of committee — but we’re putting people on notice that we will,” Paul told POLITICO.
The Senate Banking Committee is considering holding a hearing on Yellen’s nomination on Nov. 14. After that is done, the committee would need to vote to approve the nomination.
Paul wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) late Thursday to inform him of his plans.
“As the Senate debates the nomination of the next head of the Federal Reserve, there is no more appropriate time to provide Congress with additional oversight and scrutiny of the actions and decisions of the central bank,” Paul wrote.
Yellen, currently the Fed’s vice chair, is expected to be confirmed, but Paul’s hold could complicate the process if Republicans decide to rally around a call for a vote on his legislation. In order to get around a hold, 60 votes would be needed.
A version of the bill passed the House last year on a 327-98 vote.
The bill would authorize the Government Accountability Office to audit how the central bank implements monetary policy.
Federal Reserve officials, including current Chairman Ben Bernanke, oppose the bill, arguing it would threaten the central bank’s independence by adding a new dimension of political pressure to its monetary policy decisions.
The idea of a Federal Reserve “audit” is something that originated with Senator Paul’s father years ago, and indeed was a central part of the elder Paul’s Presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 but never really got anywhere until the GOP took control of the House in 2010. Some version of the bill has passed in that body at least twice since then, but in both cases it’s gotten nowhere in the Senate. Indeed, even if Paul gets what he wants its unlikely that the bill will actually get enough votes to advance. In either case, I’m not sure that actually getting the bill passed into law is what Paul is aiming for. This is all aimed at his libertarian base and what many are seeing as preparation for a possible Presidential run in 2016.