Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
A press release or statement from the office of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has become harbinger of failure for any number of President Joe Biden’s plans. After having previously derailed the president’s social spending bill, Manchin on Monday all but guaranteed Biden’s pick to serve as vice chair of supervision for the Federal Reserve would not be confirmed.
Manchin, a longtime supporter of oil and coal interests, said he would vote no on the confirmation of Sarah Bloom Raskin over his concerns that she would use her new position to hamper the fossil fuel industry and prolong the nation’s energy woes.
“The Federal Reserve Board is not an institution that should politicize its critical decisions,” Manchin said in a release. “This is a 10-year term to perhaps the most important independent body that is tasked with ensuring the stability of the American economy. At this historic moment for both the United States and the world at large, it is imperative the Federal Reserve Board preserves its independence and steers clear of any hint of partisanship.”
Manchin’s support was critical for Raskin’s confirmation in an equally divided Senate, and any hope Democrats might have harbored for winning a single Republican vote was dashed when Maine’s Susan Collins, the most moderate Republican in the Senate, said she would also vote no.
“I think, given [Manchin’s] statement, it’s pretty clear there isn’t a path forward for her,” the Bangor Daily News quoted Collins as having said.
Spokespeople at the White House fumed over the revelation, accusing Manchin and Republicans of launching an oil-company-backed smear campaign while effusively, though nonspecifically, touting Raskin’s qualifications.
“[Raskin] is one of the most qualified people to have ever been nominated for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors– she previously served on the Board and she served as second-in-command at Treasury, both positions where she earned bipartisan Senate confirmation,” deputy press secretary Chris Meagher tweeted. “She has earned widespread support in the face of an unprecedented, baseless campaign led by oil and gas companies that sought to tarnish her distinguished career.
“We are working to line up the bipartisan support that she deserves, so that she can be confirmed by the Senate for this important position.”
During her Monday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Raskin was, “one of the most qualified individuals to ever be nominated to this position … our focus is on continuing to work with [Senate Banking Committee Chair Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio] to garner bipartisan support.”
That support is almost certain to not emerge.
Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee previously boycotted voting to advance Raskin’s nomination to the full Senate. They had cited concerns that she’d used her connections to the Fed, having served on the Board of Governors during the Obama Administration, to get favorable treatment for a private company she joined post-2016.
However, like Manchin, the root of Republican resistance has been Raskin’s decidedly anti-fossil fuel stances, among them a 2020 New York Times Op-Ed in which she urged the Fed to avoid lending money to fossil fuel companies at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That Manchin would resist Raskin’s nomination is hardly a surprise. Manchin opposed Build Back Better because of its threat to inflation, and has of late been outspoken about his desire for U.S. officials to reign in both inflation and the cost of fuel.
“Now more than ever, the United States must have policy leaders and economic experts who are focused on the most pressing issues facing the American people and our nation – specifically rising inflation and energy costs,” Manchin said. “I have carefully reviewed Sarah Bloom Raskin’s qualifications and previous public statements. Her previous public statements have failed to satisfactorily address my concerns about the critical importance of financing an all-of-the-above energy policy to meet our nation’s critical energy needs. I have come to the conclusion that I am unable to support her nomination to serve as a member of the Federal Reserve Board.”
Raskin is not the only Federal Reserve nominee held up in committee. The Republican boycott has also delayed four additional confirmations, including that of Fed Chair Jerome Powell.
Republicans have offered to allow votes on the other nominees, but as of Monday the White House was still pushing for all five nominees to receive a vote.
“[There’s] enough support to move all five nominees through the committee,” Psaki said. “So we think the Republicans should show up so that they can vote them through the committee.”