Talking to reporters, Thune also said that conversations around Shelton’s nomination “kind of got eclipsed by the coronavirus discussion” as Congress squabbled over another stimulus package. Thune said focus had shifted back to Shelton’s nomination and “discussing it with some of our members who had some questions.”
“We’re still having some discussions and, you know, when it’s when it’s ripe, we’ll move,” Thune said.
In a statement, White House spokesman Judd Deere said that “President Trump is firmly behind his nomination of Judy Shelton, who is exceptionally qualified, to the Federal Reserve. Senate Democrats should stop playing politics and confirm the President’s nominee.”
Shelton, who advised Trump’s 2016 presidential run, has had a contentious nomination process from the start. In July, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she would vote against her nomination, joining Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). If all Senate Democrats and independents voted against the nomination, Shelton’s confirmation would be doomed if she lost the support of four Republicans.
Shelton narrowly made it through the Senate Banking Committee this summer after a 13-to-12 vote along party lines. Earlier in the year, some Republicans on the panel expressed concerns about Shelton’s views on the Fed’s independence and monetary policy.
In past remarks and writings, Shelton has said the Fed harnesses too much power and should be reined in. She has also called for a return to the long-abandoned gold standard, and her critics say her views make her too much of an outlier.
A spokeswoman for the Senate Banking Committee declined to comment.
Typically, the process for confirming Fed governors does not hinge so narrowly on a few votes or fan political flames. Senate Democrats also argue that the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing recession raise doubts about Shelton’s fitness to join the board that influences U.S. monetary policy.
“This isn’t a partisan issue — her economic ideas wouldn’t give families and businesses the steady hand they need in this crisis,” tweeted Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the top Democrat on the banking panel.
George Selgin, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, said that based on Thune’s comments, Shelton’s candidacy hasn’t been definitively ruled out, and it isn’t entirely clear which other Senate Republicans wouldn’t vote to confirm her.
Rather, Selgin said that Thune’s remarks underscore a broader message about politics and the administration.
“There are always people who, in principle, could still be on the fence, but they’re sending a strong signal that it’s going to be a real uphill battle at this point,” Selgin said. “It isn’t quite over, but it’s a strong signal that it’s going to be a knockdown, drag-down fight and that the costs to the Republicans would be very high, without any guarantee of prevailing.”