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Shelton's Fed nomination on knife's edge amid coronavirus-fueled absences

Shelton's Fed nomination on knife's edge amid coronavirus-fueled absences
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE's controversial nominee to the Federal Reserve Board is in limbo amid Senate absences fueled by exposure to the coronavirus.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHumanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE (R-Ky.) has teed up Judy Shelton's nomination for an initial vote on Tuesday afternoon, when she'll need a simple majority to overcome a procedural hurdle and advance to a final vote as soon as Wednesday.

Shelton's nomination appeared to be on a glide path late last week after Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Just five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional Portman's exit underscores Republican identity crisis MORE (R-Alaska) announced her support and GOP leadership moved to break the months-long uncertainty.

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Instead, it's unclear if Shelton will have the support needed to move forward. Spokespeople for McConnell didn't immediately respond to a question about whether Tuesday's procedural vote will move forward as scheduled.

"We'll see. With the absences now, we have some attendance issues, so it's a little bit fluid, I'd say, at the moment," said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Senate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Just five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGOP digs in on preserving Trump tax cuts OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Sweeping COVID-19, spending deal hits speed bumps MORE (R-Idaho) added that they were "still working" the vote.

Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, where every Democratic senator is expected to oppose Shelton.

Her nomination faced fierce headwinds amid bipartisan opposition over her previous support for returning to the gold standard and using inflation as a tool to make U.S. exports more competitive.

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Three GOP senators have said they oppose her: Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators discussing Trump censure resolution Senate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Just five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE (Maine), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyJust five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback Press: The case against Citizen Trump MORE (Utah) and Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (Tenn.). But Alexander is not in Washington, D.C., this week due to family obligations.

That put support for Shelton at 50-49. But in a curveball, two GOP senators – Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate sworn in as jurors for Trump impeachment trial GOP digs in on preserving Trump tax cuts On The Money: Treasury announces efforts to help people get stimulus payments | Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury | Judge sets ground rules for release of Trump taxes MORE (Iowa) – announced that they are in self-quarantine after exposure to an individual with coronavirus. A third Republican senator, Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungTrump, allies raise pressure on Senate GOP ahead of impeachment Moderates vow to 'be a force' under Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds MORE (Ind.), was in self-quarantine but is expected to return on Tuesday.

If every senator except Alexander, Scott and Grassley votes on Tuesday, Shelton would fall short of the votes necessary to advance at 48-49.

But in a potential boon to Shelton, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized What the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Vice President Harris receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine MORE (D-Calif.), the vice president-elect, has not been returning to the Senate to vote.

Spokespeople for Harris didn't immediately respond to a question about her schedule. But if she doesn't vote, Shelton would have a 48-48 tie, letting Vice President Pence cast a vote to advance her on Tuesday or even confirm her on Wednesday.

Eleven senators, including Harris, were also absent from Monday night's vote: four Republican senators, six Democrats and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWhat the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Business groups prepare for lobbying push against minimum wage Schumer: Senate could pave way for reconciliation on COVID relief next week MORE (I-Vt.).

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHumanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives Bush-, Obama-era officials urge Senate to swiftly confirm Biden's DHS pick OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court upholds ruling invalidating Dakota Access, but doesn't shut down pipeline | Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency | Biden seeks to bolster consultation with Indian Country MORE (D-N.Y.) urged Republicans to oppose Shelton's nomination during Tuesday's procedural vote.

"I understand a few of our Republican colleagues will oppose her nomination as well. The question is will enough of our colleagues on the other side stand up and do the right thing today?" Schumer asked ahead of the vote.

Updated: 12:52 p.m.