Robert Novak

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has appealed to Senate Democratic leaders to confirm President Bush's long-pending nominations to fill two empty chairs as Fed governors, enabling a fully staffed central bank to handle the current financial crisis. He did not receive a favorable response from Sen. Christopher Dodd, Senate Banking Committee chairman.

Dodd omitted Fed nominees from President Bush's appointments that his committee considered this week. Sen. Richard Shelby, Banking's ranking Republican, who usually works well with Dodd, has been ignored in requesting Fed confirmations. "I'm not going to sit back and allow for 14-year appointments of people who don't seem to understand how important it is the Fed do its job," Dodd said on CNBC June 5.

Actually, banker Elizabeth Duke would serve four years and banker Larry Klane two years. A third nominee, Randall Kroszner, continues on the board while awaiting confirmation to a full 14-year term. Bush has not yet named anyone for a new vacancy, so three of seven seats on the Fed's Board of Governors are empty, with an imbalance of economists over bankers.


Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell cancelled Wednesday's long-delayed consideration by the Senate Republican Conference of earmark reforms after several senators asserted they were "uncomfortable" voting on them.

Those initiatives by the Republican Fiscal Reform Working Group are called "milquetoast" by Republican reformers who would like to outlaw earmarks. The group was dominated by Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who tops the Senate in earmarks. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a leading anti-earmark reformer, is also a member of the working group but was outvoted.

McConnell said the proposals will be considered by the conference after the Fourth of July recess.


West Texas Republican leaders were upset when Sen. John McCain at the last minute canceled a June 16 fundraiser in Midland, Texas, (that had collected $1.5 million) because it was being held in the home of oilman Clayton Williams.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said McCain was "unaware" of "incredibly offensive remarks" made by Williams in his unsuccessful 1990 race for governor of Texas. Sue Brannon, Midland County Republican chairman, said the event was scrubbed because of a "personal conflict" by McCain.

Brannon said the fundraiser would be rescheduled at the Hilton Midland Plaza, but Texas Republican sources called it a cancellation by party activists who are lukewarm about McCain. They have been unhappy about McCain's opposition to oil drilling in ANWR (Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge).


Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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