Two Nominees Make It to the Fed, One Does Not
Yesterday, in the waning hours before the long October recess, during which members of Congress campaign, the Senate confirmed a spate of nominees. Among them were Janet Yellen and Sarah Bloom Raskin to the board of the Federal Reserve, much-needed policy-making positions. But do not take this as much of a sign that the procedural blockades around nominees have fallen. Peter Diamond, Obama’s third Fed nominee, is still pending, and, as a rule, the Senate remains totally stopped up on this count.
This summer, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) argued, about Diamond, “I do not believe he’s ready to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board. I do not believe that the current environment of uncertainty would benefit from monetary policy decisions made by board members who are learning on the job.”
It is is a bit of a strain, to say the least, to classify Diamond as unqualified. He is a lauded MIT economist with specialization in labor markets, monetary policy and Social Security, and actually taught Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at one point.
But he will not be getting a recess appointment to start central banking anytime soon. After some procedural concessions and negotiations between the two parties, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) apparently threatened to block many of Obama’s nominees if Democrats let him make any recess appointments. So, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reportedly agreed to hold pro forma sessions in October, meaning the White House cannot use its constitutionally mandated power to name nominees directly into their positions when Congress is out of session.
That means more than 110 executive and judicial nominees, many non-controversial, many much-needed in their various offices, wait.