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Joe Manchin opposes Sarah Bloom Raskin Federal Reserve nomination

Sarah Bloom Raskin, nominated to be vice chairman for supervision and a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, speaks before a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., February 3, 2022.

Ken Cedeno | Reuters

Sen. Joe Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, said Monday that he opposes one of President Joe Biden’s nominees to the Federal Reserve, leaving her candidacy to join the central bank with the slimmest of hopes.

“I have carefully reviewed Sarah Bloom Raskin’s qualifications and previous public statements. Her previous public statements have failed to satisfactorily address my concerns about the critical importance of financing an all-of-the-above energy policy to meet our nation’s critical energy needs,” Manchin said in a statement.

“I have come to the conclusion that I am unable to support her nomination to serve as a member of the Federal Reserve Board,” he added. Raskin is a former Fed governor and served as the deputy Treasury secretary in the Obama administration.

Manchin’s formal opposition all but dooms Raskin’s bid to be the Fed’s next vice chair for supervision, one of the most powerful banking regulators in the world. While it’s possible Raskin could garner support from a moderate Republican, a Senate split 50-50 means anything but a unified Democratic party makes the odds of success for any presidential nominee perilous at best.

“Sarah Bloom Raskin is one of the most qualified people to have ever been nominated for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors,” a White House spokesperson told CNBC. “She has earned widespread support in the face of an unprecedented, baseless campaign led by oil and gas companies that sought to tarnish her distinguished career. We are working to line up the bipartisan support that she deserves, so that she can be confirmed by the Senate for this important position. “

Manchin, who last week said that his own party should advance Biden’s four other Fed nominees without Raskin, has for weeks worked to support the U.S. energy industry as oil and gas prices climb after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden has also nominated Jerome Powell to a second term as Fed chair, chosen Lael Brainard as vice chair, and picked Lisa Cook and Philip Jefferson as Fed governors.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) listens as U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S., March 1. 2022.

J. Scott Applewhite | Reuters

His statement Monday suggested that he doesn’t believe Raskin, who has previously called for stronger climate policies and critiqued the energy sector, could serve on the Fed without politicizing her decisions.

“The Federal Reserve Board is not an institution that should politicize its critical decisions,” Manchin said. “The time has come for the Federal Reserve Board to return to its defining principles and dual mandate of controlling inflation by ensuring stable prices and maximum employment. I will not support any future nominee that does not respect these critical priorities.”

Many of Manchin’s top donors include executives in the coal, oil and gas industries. Within the past year, Manchin has received donations from Ryan Lance, CEO of ConocoPhillips, Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum, and R. Lane Riggs, the president of Valero Energy. 

His remarks cap a weekslong standoff between Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee, where the GOP has boycotted a vote on the president’s candidates out of opposition to Raskin.

Republicans, led by Banking Committee ranking member Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, have said they are open to holding a vote on Powell, Brainard, Cook and Jefferson. But Democrats, led by the White House and committee Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, have pushed back and said they will only hold a vote if all of the nominees are included.

The two sides have fought since early February over Raskin’s fate.

Republicans began their attacks on Raskin during her confirmation hearing on Feb. 3, when several criticized her views on climate policy and the what many in the energy sector fear could be the Fed’s eventual move to discourage banks from lending to fossil fuel companies.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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