Janet Yellen’s nomination to head the Federal Reserve will be considered by a Senate committee early next month, a panel aide said, as the candidate prepares for private meetings with lawmakers starting next week.
Yellen’s nomination may be challenged by U.S. Senator Rand Paul, who is considering placing a hold as he seeks a vote on legislation that would require regular public audits of the Fed’s operations, according to an aide in the lawmaker’s office.
A hold probably won’t imperil her nomination. White House spokesman Josh Earnest today said the president looks forward to swift confirmation. A hold might spur several days of debate and means 60 votes would be needed to advance the nomination.
“This was expected,” Jaret Seiberg, a senior policy analyst with Guggenheim Securities LLC’s Washington Research Group, said today in a note to clients. “It is very similar to a filibuster. And like a filibuster it can be overturned with 60 votes.”
Starting Oct. 31, when New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker is sworn in to replace the late Frank Lautenberg, Democrats will have a 55-45 seat Senate majority, meaning at least five Republicans are needed to reach the 60-vote threshold.
President Barack Obama chose Yellen, 67, to succeed Ben S. Bernanke as chairman of the Fed Board of Governors this month. The White House sent Yellen’s nomination to the Senate earlier this month.
“Next week, she will begin visiting with individual senators on the Hill,” Earnest told reporters on Air Force One en route to New York City. “As the president said when he nominated her earlier this month, she is exceptionally well qualified for this role.”
The Senate Banking Committee received some of Yellen’s nomination paperwork and meetings with the members are being scheduled, according to a committee aide who requested anonymity to discuss the planning. A hearing probably will be held in November, according to the aide.
Paul would use the hold to seek a vote on his legislation to require regular audits of Fed finances, according to the aide, who requested anonymity to talk about plans before an announcement. The bill would cover all Fed operations, including deliberations over changes to the benchmark interest rate and its bond-purchasing programs known as QE for quantitative easing.
“The American people deserve transparency from the Federal Reserve and the federal government as a whole,” Paul said in a statement today that didn’t directly address holding up Yellen’s nomination.
Bernanke has repeatedly said the legislation would open up Fed policy making to political pressure and put the central bank’s independence at risk. A companion bill passed the House of Representatives last year with a vote of 327-98.
Paul’s bill has 25 co-sponsors in the Senate. One of those, Mark Begich of Alaska, is a Democrat.
A hold is an informal device used in the Senate to provide extra time for negotiation or review of documents before a vote.
Paul’s bill is S. 209.