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ICYMI: Idaho Statesman: Idaho U.S. Sen. Crapo a Roadblock to Biden's Federal Reserve Pick as Inflation Mounts

March 09, 2022

Yesterday, the Idaho Statesman reported on Idaho Senator Mike Crapo's refusal to confirm President Biden's five highly qualified nominees to the Federal Reserve.

The article notes that despite Sen. Crapo's stated concern about inflation, he and his Republican colleagues on the Senate Banking Committee are leading an effort to block the confirmation of the President's critical nominees to the Federal Reserve, which plays the primary role in helping our economy achieve full employment and stable prices. Republican Committee members are refusing to show up to the Committee hearing and hold a vote on five of President Biden's nominees, instead blockading the nominees from advancing to the Senate floor.

Because of this obstruction, the President's highly qualified nominees may not be in place before the next Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) this month, which will be one of the most consequential Fed meetings of the last several decades.

Read the full article below.

Idaho Statesman: Idaho U.S. Sen. Crapo a roadblock to Biden's Federal Reserve pick as inflation mounts
[By Kevin Fixler, 3/8/22]

Amid historic inflation rates and the push for greater economic recovery from the pandemic, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho is helping lead a Republican standoff with Democratic President Joe Biden over a senior-level appointment to the central bank that manages the nation's financial system.

The Senate Banking Committee's Republican members, including Crapo, held up the confirmation process last month for the president's nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin to the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors. The committee's 12 Republicans banded together at the direction of the ranking member, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to skip the Feb. 15 meeting, withholding the quorum needed for a vote.

The White House has called the Republican move a "very extreme step" and "totally irresponsible" in light of ongoing financial challenges and the two parties' mutual interest in stabilizing the American economy.

"So Republicans are out there saying, 'Inflation is a problem. It's a huge issue,' " White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last month. "We agree. And then they're not even bothering to show up to even vote against these nominees to the Federal Reserve. What message is that sending to the American public?"

Meanwhile, Crapo, who also is the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, has continued to lambaste Democrats — including during a visit last month to the Idaho House — for their handling of the economy. He pointed to record-level inflation at 7.5% year over year, as well as financial studies that show the average American family is paying as much as $3,500 more annually for the same goods and services as the year before.

Crapo echoed objections to Bloom Raskin's nomination previously voiced by Toomey in delaying her confirmation vote to the Fed board. In a written statement to the Idaho Statesman, the four-term senator said that Biden's nominee "continues to evade important questions" raised by committee members.

"The committee should not be compelled to move forward with considering her nomination until she has adequately addressed those outstanding concerns," Crapo said. "Despite Republicans' requests for the chairman to hold her nomination while the committee proceeded to considering other pending nominees, he chose to move forward while unresolved questions specifically about Ms. Bloom Raskin remained."

Republicans have also criticized Bloom Raskin's views on climate-focused economic regulation.

"Moreover," Crapo said, "I have consistently opposed nominees who have supported or called for efforts by the Fed to cut off the allocation of credit and access to capital for politically disfavored industries, such as oil and gas or firearms companies."

Committee Republicans have in the meantime offered to vote on Biden's other four Federal Reserve Board nominees, which the committee chair, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and the White House have so far resisted.

The president's other nominees to the Fed board include Jerome Powell, the current board chair, for another four-year term. Powell was first appointed to the seven-member board under former President Barack Obama and elevated to the lead role under former President Donald Trump.

Biden, in his State of the Union address last week, renewed his request that the Senate Banking Committee confirm his five nominees to the Fed, which, he said, "plays a critical role in fighting inflation."

DEBATE OVER BLOOM RASKIN'S RECENT HISTORY

Bloom Raskin, 60, is a Harvard-educated attorney who previously served as Maryland's lead financial regulator. She went on to serve more than three years on the Fed board during the Obama administration, before Obama appointed her as the deputy secretary of the U.S. Treasury, the agency's second-in-command role.

In both cases, Bloom Raskin received Senate approvals without objection, including unanimous bipartisan support in 2010 for the Fed board position.

"She's one of the most qualified individuals to ever be nominated to the Federal Reserve," Psaki said during a press briefing last month. "She's made the strongest ethics commitments in the history of the Fed, even as she's made extensive disclosures to the Banking Committee as a natural part of the process."

Bloom Raskin in the recent past has called on financial regulation agencies, such as the Fed, to step up to help limit the effects of climate change, including in the development of solutions. She has advocated for such institutions to incentivize the transition away from investments in heavy carbon-producing industries and practices in favor of those that are more environmentally sustainable, which make them more economically viable, too, she argued.

Bloom Raskin also is married to U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, who acted as impeachment manager for the second U.S. Senate trial of Trump following the Jan. 6, 2020 attack on the U.S. Capitol. A three-term congressman, Raskin also is one of nine members on a U.S. House committee continuing to investigate the insurrection.

Despite Republicans publicly rebuking Bloom Raskin for her positions on economic policy concerning climate change, the area where they've taken sharpest aim relates to her time as a board member for a Colorado-based financial technology firm after departing the U.S. Treasury in January 2017. During Bloom Raskin's tenure with Reserve Trust, the private firm gained access to a Federal Reserve master account — a highly sought after benefit that allows companies to transfer funds without a bank through the Fed's internal payment system.

Bloom Raskin has denied that she helped the firm receive undue consideration for its Fed master account, including by leveraging past central bank relationships to facilitate the approval. Her statements on the issue have been backed by the founder of Reserve Trust, as well as other banking institutions and legal ethics officials, according to the White House and media reports.

Republican committee members, however, have called on Bloom Raskin to provide more information about her time at Reserve Trust before they are willing to consider a vote to again appoint her to the Fed board. Toomey also noted that Brown, the committee chair, in the past led a similar Democratic effort to boycott votes for two Trump-era appointees awaiting confirmation through the Senate Finance Committee.

"So it remains entirely unclear what happened here. All we know is that Ms. Raskin was in the middle of it," Toomey said last month during a committee hearing of Bloom Raskin's Reserve Trust tenure. "But we want answers before we vote on Ms. Raskin."

Were the Senate Banking Committee to eventually consider Bloom Raskin's nomination, and it deadlock on a party-line vote, her confirmation would next head to the U.S. Senate for a full vote. There, she would require the support of all 50 Democrats in the evenly split chamber, and Vice President Kamala Harris break the tie to receive the appointment.

Joseph R. Biden, ICYMI: Idaho Statesman: Idaho U.S. Sen. Crapo a Roadblock to Biden's Federal Reserve Pick as Inflation Mounts Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/354832

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