Just a few months ago, it was unclear whether Shelton had enough support among GOP senators to be confirmed.
Shelton’s confirmation could mark Trump’s final imprint on the Fed board before the Biden administration is inaugurated in January. Trump’s previous picks to fill the Fed’s two current vacancies have faced criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike, and getting his final nominees confirmed would be a victory before his administration leaves office. Some of Shelton’s critics had previously wondered whether Trump, if reelected, would try to elevate Shelton to Fed chair. Yet those prospects have all but evaporated with an incoming Biden administration.
“Judy Shelton, President Trump’s exceptionally qualified nominee to the Federal Reserve, has the full backing of the White House and we expect she will be confirmed,” deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement Thursday.
In September, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) suggested that Shelton did not have the votes to be confirmed. At the time, Thune said conversations about Shelton’s nomination “kind of got eclipsed by the coronavirus discussion” and related stimulus negotiations.
“We’re still working it,” Thune said at the time. “She’s a priority for the White House. It’s the Federal Reserve. It’s important, so obviously we want to get it done. But we’re not going to bring it up until we have the votes to confirm her.”
Shelton’s confirmation also appeared in jeopardy earlier in the summer when Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said they would vote against her nomination. In July, Shelton’s nomination narrowly made it through the Senate Banking Committee, which voted 13 to 12 along party lines to send the nomination to the floor of the Senate. Some on the panel had previously expressed concerns that Shelton was too much of an outlier in her views on the Fed’s independence and monetary policy.
Shelton advised Trump’s 2016 presidential bid and has been criticized for her views on the long-abandoned gold standard. Shelton also had called for closer ties between the White House and the Fed despite a long-standing tradition of central bank independence.
Shelton was nominated alongside Christopher J. Waller, a St. Louis Fed economist. Waller’s confirmation has been far less controversial. If both Shelton and Waller are confirmed, the board’s current vacancies will be filled.
“It means Republicans are taking it very seriously and Trump wants to get it done,” said Stephen Moore, an outside economic adviser to the White House who abandoned his own bid to fill one of the Fed’s vacancies amid scrutiny of his past remarks. “People said, ‘Well, she’s not in the mainstream with all the other Fed economists.’ Well, that’s what we like about her. ... There’s this sense that everyone has to drink the same Kool-Aid at the Fed.”
Still, the makeup of the Fed board of governors could change further once the Biden administration is in office. Lael Brainard, the board’s lone Democrat, also is a top contender to Biden’s treasury secretary or, some suggest, a successor to Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell if he is not reappointed when his term ends in 2022.
Erica Werner contributed to this report.