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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 TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos 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 McConnellLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Manchin opens door to supporting scaled-down election reform bill Pelosi, Schumer must appoint new commissioners to the CARES Act oversight panel 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 confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office Democrat presses Haaland on oil and gas review Hundreds in West Virginia protest Manchin's opposition to voting rights legislation 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 ThuneYellen: Disclosure of tax data to ProPublica a 'very serious situation' Sanders won't vote for bipartisan infrastructure deal Bipartisan infrastructure deal takes fire from left and right MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoYellen confident rising inflation won't be 'permanent' On The Money: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process on Wednesday | Four states emerge as test case for cutting off jobless benefits McConnell presses for 'actual consequences' in disclosure of tax data 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 CollinsSenate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office Pelosi says she's giving Senate more time on Jan. 6 commission Overnight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve MORE (Maine), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyChina's genocide must be stopped How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Biden's European trip MORE (Utah) and Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain 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 GrassleyOn The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections Overnight Health Care: US buying additional 200M Moderna vaccine doses | CureVac's COVID-19 vaccine failed in preliminary trial results | Grassley meets with House Dems on drug prices Grassley meets with moderate House Democrats on lowering drug prices MORE (Iowa) – announced that they are in self-quarantine after exposure to an individual with coronavirus. A third Republican senator, Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungOn The Money: Yellen, Powell brush off inflation fears | Fed keeps rates steady, upgrades growth projections Overnight Defense: Biden, Putin agree to launch arms control talks at summit | 2002 war authorization repeal will get Senate vote | GOP rep warns Biden 'blood with be on his hands' without Afghan interpreter evacuation Bipartisan infrastructure group grows to 20 senators 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 HarrisIt's past time we elect a Black woman governor Manchin rebuffs progressive push for infrastructure guarantee It's time for domestic workers to have rights 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 SandersSanders opposes Biden Interior nominee in procedural vote Briahna Joy Gray on how Sanders changed the healthcare conversation Sanders 'delighted' DeSantis asked White House to import Canadian prescription drugs MORE (I-Vt.).

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel unanimously advances key Biden cyber nominees Overnight Energy: Schumer to trigger reconciliation process Wednesday | Bipartisan bill would ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics | Biden admin eyes step toward Trump-era proposal for uranium reserve GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' 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.