Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) on Capitol Hill on Dec. 22, 2018. (Zach Gibson/Bloomberg)

Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) said Sunday that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell is “doing a good job” and rejected the notion that President Trump could fire him out of frustration over the stock market, in the strongest statement yet from a Republican against any moves by the president to oust the central bank chief.

Trump most likely does not have the authority to remove Powell, experts say. Yet amid the markets’ recent volatility, the president has repeatedly sought to blame Powell and asked advisers whether he has the power to fire him, two people familiar with the exchanges told The Washington Post.

In an interview on CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” Shelby described the Federal Reserve as “the bedrock of our financial system” and said it is “set up to be independent.”

“I don’t believe blaming the Federal Reserve for this or that — whoever the president or a congressman or senator is — helps matters,” Shelby said. “The president cannot fire the chairman of the Federal Reserve, except for cause. I think Chairman Powell, myself, is doing a good job.”

Shelby chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee and previously led the Senate Banking Committee, which is responsible for holding confirmation hearings for Fed nominees.

Trump nominated Powell last year but has been regularly berating the central bank chairman lately, claiming that he is raising interest rates too quickly.

“The only problem our economy has is the Fed,” Trump tweeted on Christmas Eve. “They don’t have a feel for the Market, they don’t understand necessary Trade Wars or Strong Dollars or even Democrat Shutdowns over Borders. The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch - he can’t putt!”

Earlier this month, Shelby said Trump needs to be “very careful” in how he approaches the central bank.

“Although I disagree with Powell at times, I’ve been on the Banking Committee longer than most people ever have, and I chaired it. I think the Federal Reserve should remain independent, as much as it can,” the senator told Politico.