If Paul puts a "hold" on the nominees, it would require the
Senate to first vote to limit debate and then to vote on final
approval. Republicans regularly force the Democrats who control
the chamber to hold two votes on nominees.
Given that the nominees - Stanley Fischer, Lael Brainard and
Jerome Powell - received unanimous and bipartisan support in the
Senate Banking Committee, their eventual approval seems certain.
However, due to a tight legislative calendar ahead of a Memorial
Day recess later this month, Paul's threat makes it more likely
the normally seven-strong board at the Fed will drop to just
three members for the first time in the U.S. central bank's
history when Fed Governor Jeremy Stein steps down on May 28.
Democratic aides in the Senate said it was unclear whether a
vote could be held before the recess, but that if not, it would
be the first order of business after the recess.
Fischer, the former head of the Bank of Israel, has been
nominated to be the Fed's vice chairman. Brainard, a former top
U.S. Treasury official, has been nominated to a regular board
seat. Powell already has a seat on the Fed board, but has been
nominated to a fresh term.
Even if all three are approved, President Barack Obama will
still have two board seats to fill.
Fed officials have staunchly opposed any legislation that would
expose monetary policy decisions to congressional audit as a
threat to their political independence.
(Reporting by Timothy Ahmann, additional reporting by Richard
Cowan; editing by G Crosse)
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