Rand Paul threatens to hold Fed nominees for audit bill vote

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Monday told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he will oppose floor consideration of three Federal Reserve nominees without a vote on his “Audit the Fed” bill.
 
“As the Senate debates the Federal Reserve Board nominees, there is no more appropriate time to provide Congress with additional oversight and scrutiny of the actions and decisions of the central bank,” Paul wrote to Reid, in a letter first obtained by The Hill.
 
The Kentucky senator called for an “up or down vote” on his own bill as well. Due to Senate rules changes, Paul’s bid to block the nominees is unlikely to be successful, but an aide said they hoped to gain attention for the senator’s legislation.
 
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“It’s hard to filibuster these days,” the aide said. “A filibuster isn’t what is used to be.”
 
Paul said he plans to oppose floor consideration for Stanley Fischer, the nominee for Fed vice chairman, and Jerome Powell and Lael Brainard, both of whom are nominated for the Board of Governors.
 
Last month, the Senate Banking Committee approved the three nominations by voice vote. Reid has yet to schedule a vote on the nominations.
 
Paul’s bill would expand the Government Accountability Office’s scope in auditing the Fed, moves he says would make the central bank’s actions more transparent. 
 
Fed officials, including Chairwoman Janet Yellen, oppose the proposal, arguing that it could unfairly politicize the bank and limit its independence.
 
Paul noted in his letter to Reid that the House passed similar legislation proposed by the Kentucky senator’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), by 327-98 in 2012.
 
Paul last fall similarly threatened to block Yellen’s nomination to the Fed’s top spot.