President Trump conducted an informal poll of Senate Republicans to solicit their views on the finalists he is considering to chair the Federal Reserve.
The show-of-hands survey, which Trump asked for during a closed-door lunch meeting Tuesday at the Capitol, pitted Federal Reserve governor Jerome Powell against Stanford University economist John Taylor, participants said. The president also asked about Janet L. Yellen, the current Fed chair, whose four-year term ends in February.
The poll did not appear to return a clear result, though Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told Bloomberg that he thinks Taylor won. Not everybody voted. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said he has no strong preference so he didn’t participate. And Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she is not familiar enough with Powell and Taylor yet to have a view. “I think Janet L. Yellen has done a good job and hope that she might be considered for reappointment,” Collins said.
Trump said last week that he plans to make a decision “very shortly.” In an interview with Fox Business Network, he suggested that Powell and Taylor are the two leading candidates. “Most people are saying it’s down to two: Mr. Taylor, Mr. Powell,” he said. “I also met with Janet L. Yellen, who I like a lot. I really like her a lot. So I have three people that I’m looking at.” Other names on his recent shortlist reportedly include former Fed governor Kevin Warsh and Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic adviser.
Asked whether Trump’s straw-poll matchup of Taylor and Powell means that his decision has narrowed to that pair, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday, “Those are certainly individuals that he’s looking at.”
“The president is taking that decision extremely seriously, and he’s being very thorough in the process, and he’ll have an announcement on it soon,” she added. “He’s talking to a lot of relevant stakeholders and individuals about this.”
Taylor — who has been critical of Yellen’s approach to economic stimulus and has argued for more-aggressive interest-rate hikes — draws support from some conservative circles, including among some House Republicans. Vice President Pence is also said to favor him. The Wall Street Journal editorial page on Friday endorsed the president choosing Taylor or Warsh. And Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (D-Pa.), another Banking Committee member, backs those two, a spokesman said, because he “believes we need to go in a new direction at the Fed.”
Powell, who was appointed by Obama, represents a choice to stay the central bank’s current course on monetary policy and regulation.
Sean Sullivan, Damian Paletta and Heather Long contributed to this report.