Senate Banking chairman to move on Obama nominees

Senate Banking chairman to move on Obama nominees
© Getty Images

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby told The Hill this week that he will review the 16 nominees up for positions and announce which the committee will consider next week, the first sign of movement on the picks after long delays.

Shelby, who won the GOP primary election in Alabama on March 1, said Thursday that the two SEC nominees "ought to be high priority" but that no decisions have been made yet and he hadn't discussed it with committee members.

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocratic senator: People don’t know what’s going on between Trump and Putin Power struggle threatens to sink bank legislation Pension committee must deliver on retirement promise MORE (Ohio), the top Democrat on the committee, told The Hill that senators on both sides of the aisle were frustrated with Shelby’s refusal to hold hearings or votes for Obama administration nominees. The empty positions include posts at the Export-Import Bank, Federal Reserve and the top anti-terrorism finance job at the Treasury.

“They're frustrated, too,” Brown said. “They won't push Shelby hard because he's their chairman, but I have conversations with Banking Republicans all the time on what they want to move." 

"A number of Republicans would have voted for a number of these,” Brown added. “There's no question in my mind that most of them would have been confirmed if they were brought up."

Democrats on the Banking Committee have railed against Shelby for refusing to act on nominees until after his primary. They demanded in a Feb. 22 letter that he hold hearings and votes for 16 nominees before the panel, some of which had been waiting for a year.

"Once confirmed, [the nominees] will play important roles — some in strengthening our economy, others in promoting financial stability, or protecting national security including efforts to fight ISIS, or safeguarding Americans from abuse and fraud, or ensuring our public transportation is safe," wrote the Democrats. "Failure to act impairs agencies’ and offices’ ability to fulfill all of their functions."

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Shelby would move on two SEC nominees soon, citing sources familiar with the matter. Brown said he had heard the same but not from Shelby himself. 

"He's not said it to me, but apparently the two SEC nominees he's moving on," Brown said. "That's good, but that's only a start."