WASHINGTON D.C., DC — U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, voted against President Donald Trump's nomination of Judy Shelton as a member of the Federal Reserve Board on Tuesday.
Shelton's nomination is opposed by Senate Democrats, most economists, and many former Fed officials, the Associated Press reported.
Shelton, a conservative economics commenter, has been critical of the Fed and questioned its political independence. She supports the gold standard, in which the U.S. dollar's value is tied to gold, leaving the Fed less leeway to adjust interest rates, the AP reported.
"In her past statements, Ms. Shelton has called for the Federal Reserve to be less independent of the political branches and has even questioned the need for a central bank," Collins said in the statement. "This is not the right signal to send, particularly in the midst of the pandemic.”
The vote, in the Republican-controlled Senate, was expected to be close.
“We are in the midst of a massive economic crisis, which has devastated working Americans, small businesses, and local governments alike -- which calls for sound, long-term, data-based economic thinking," King said in a statement after the vote. "To best navigate the choppy waters ahead, we need strong, stable, apolitical leadership from the Federal Reserve that examines the best path forward for the entire nation. Instead, President Trump put forward a nominee whose extreme views place her well outside of the mainstream and, leading economists say, would create new hazards to America’s economic prospects. Dr. Shelton’s fringe views, including her support for a return to the gold standard, are dangerous in the best of times; in the middle of this crisis, they could be downright catastrophic."
King continued to say, “Perhaps even more worrisome is Dr. Shelton’s lack of respect for the Federal Reserve’s longstanding independence. The Fed is supposed to put the long-term financial interest of the nation ahead of any short-term political pressures, but Dr. Shelton has repeatedly communicated and demonstrated limited interest in continuing this tradition. If the Senate had allowed President Trump to politicize the Fed by confirming Dr. Shelton to its Board of Governors, she likely would have undermined the Fed as an institution, and permanently compromised its unique position in our society. In the short-term and the long-term, Dr. Shelton was the wrong choice for a role this important. I’m grateful that her nomination was rejected on a bipartisan basis, and hope that the Senate can shift our consideration to the pressing matters at hand.”
The nomination is stalled in the Senate after Vice President-elect Kamala Harris returned to the chamber to cast a key vote in a tally Tuesday.
The 47-50 vote came as the Republican-controlled Senate continues to focus its energies in the post-election lame-duck session on confirming Trump's appointees.
In addition to Collins, defectors included Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Two key Republicans—Chuck Grassley and Rick Scott—were absent because of COVID-related concerns.
Senator-elect Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., is likely to join the Senate when the chamber returns from its Thanksgiving break. That could leave Shelton short of support for confirmation even if Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., seeks a revote next month.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
This story will be updated.