Senator’s Virus Exposure Throws Doubt on Fed Nominee Vote

Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., puts on his face mask as he arrives for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., November 17, 2020. (Bill Clark/Pool via REUTERS)

The exposure of a second Republican senator to the coronavirus threw into doubt Tuesday whether the U.S. Senate would press ahead with a vote on Republican President Donald Trump’s controversial pick for the Federal Reserve, former economic adviser Judy Shelton.

This also stalls a vote on six judges to the federal circuit.

U.S. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, the chamber’s president pro tempore, said on Tuesday he was in quarantine after being exposed to the coronavirus and was awaiting test results.

Grassley, 87, said in a statement that he was “feeling well and not currently experiencing any symptoms” but would follow public health guidelines and would continue to work from home. Grassley is also chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida is also quarantining because of exposure to the virus.

Trump’s Republican Party has a 53-47 majority in the current Senate. Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander on Monday joined Republican colleagues Mitt Romney and Susan Collins in indicating he opposes Shelton’s confirmation.

A procedural vote was expected to come on Tuesday afternoon, with a final vote on Shelton’s confirmation later in the day. But Grassley’s absence could deprive Republicans of the necessary majority to muscle through Shelton’s confirmation. Senate rules do not allow for voting by proxy.

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