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Trump's controversial Fed nominee stalled after Senate setback

Judy Shelton’s Federal Reserve Board nomination failed to advance on Tuesday after coronavirus-related quarantines sidelined some Republican senators and Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden-Harris team unveils inauguration playlist Trump approval rating relatively unchanged in wake of Capitol rioting: NBC News poll Harris to resign from Senate seat on Monday MORE returned to the upper chamber to provide a crucial “no” vote.

Senators voted 47-50 to end debate on Shelton’s nomination, falling short of the simple majority needed. In a boon to Democrats, Harris, a Democratic senator from California, voted against Shelton’s nomination, preventing a tie.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump Rove: Chances of conviction rise if Giuliani represents Trump in Senate impeachment trial Boebert communications director resigns amid Capitol riot: report MORE (R-Ky.) initially voted "yes" but with Shelton stuck at 48-49, he switched his vote, making the final tally 47-50. The move allows him to bring the nomination back up, something he immediately laid the groundwork to do. 

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The setback comes only days after President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE's controversial pick appeared to be on a glide path to be confirmed to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors when Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocratic lawmaker says 'assassination party' hunted for Pelosi during riot Impeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate MORE (R-Alaska) said she would support her.

But two Republicans — Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Health Care: Biden unveils COVID-19 relief plan | Post-holiday surge hits new deadly records | Senate report faults 'broken' system for insulin price hikes MORE (Iowa) and Rick Scott (Fla.) — are currently quarantined due to exposure to the coronavirus, throwing a late curveball into the Senate’s consideration of her nomination.

“We have some attendance issues, so it's a little bit fluid, I'd say, at the moment," said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP For platform regulation Congress should use a European cheat sheet Streamlining the process of prior authorization for medical and surgical procedures MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, on Tuesday about Shelton.

Thune said that he believed Republicans would have the votes to confirm Shelton once senators were done quarantining, but added that “there is a little bit of a complicated factor in the Arizona seat." Sen.-elect Mark KellyMark KellyCindy McCain on possible GOP censure: 'I think I'm going to make T-shirts' Arizona state GOP moves to censure Cindy McCain, Jeff Flake Arizona county's Republican committee debates censuring Cindy McCain MORE (D-Ariz.) can be seated as soon as Nov. 30.

Three GOP senators are opposed to Shelton: Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (Maine), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history 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.). Their opposition, combined with the quarantining, capped Shelton’s "yes" votes at 48.

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Collins said shortly before the vote that she wouldn’t “pair” with an absent colleague, a procedural move that would offset their absence.

“I am very concerned about her position on the independence of the Fed and even questioning the need for a central bank, and for those reasons I cannot support her nomination and will vote no,” Collins said.

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes Window quickly closing for big coronavirus deal Trump's controversial Fed nominee stalled after Senate setback MORE (R-Kan.) voted to end debate on her nomination on Tuesday but told reporters only hours earlier that he was undecided about confirming her.

Speculations swirled earlier Tuesday that Vice President Pence might be able to break a tie if Harris was absent, because that would have deadlocked the Shelton vote at 48-48.

But Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinOfficials brace for second Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration Durbin says he won't whip votes for Trump's second impeachment trial MORE (D-Ill.) said he had asked Harris to return. She was spotted fist-bumping with her colleagues, including Republican Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham calls on Schumer to hold vote to dismiss article of impeachment against Trump Impeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP An attack on America that's divided Congress — and a nation MORE (S.C.) and Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHarris to resign from Senate seat on Monday McConnell says he's undecided on whether to vote to convict Trump McConnell won't reprise role as chief Trump defender MORE (S.C.), on the Senate floor during the Shelton vote.

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Shelton was already facing a tight path to confirmation after being held in limbo for months due to bipartisan opposition over her previous support for returning to the gold standard and using interest rates as a tool to make U.S. exports more competitive.

If Shelton is confirmed, she would fill one of two vacant seats on the seven-person Fed board of governors. All but two of those seats have been filled by Trump, despite Senate Republicans rejecting four of his previous Fed picks.

--Updated at 4:35 p.m.