US Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen’s nomination to head the Fed will be considered by a US 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 US 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 will not imperil her nomination.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Friday 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 on Friday in a note to clients. “It is very similar to a filibuster, and like a filibuster, it can be overturned with 60 votes.”
Starting on Thursday, 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.
US President Barack Obama chose Yellen, 67, to succeed Ben 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 next month, the aide said.
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 on Friday that did not directly address holding up Yellen’s nomination.
Bernanke has repeatedly said the legislation would open up Fed policymaking to political pressure and put the central bank’s independence at risk. A companion bill passed the US House of Representatives last year with a vote of 327-98.
Paul’s bill has 25 co-sponsors in the Senate. One of those, US Senator 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.