Senator Shelby starts to break banking nominee logjam

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 08, 2016 6:56 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby on Tuesday started to ease the backlog of 16 Obama administration nominees stalled before the panel, scheduling a March 15 confirmation hearing for two Securities and Exchange Commission nominees.

The move follows Shelby's resounding Republican primary victory in Alabama a week ago for a sixth term in the Senate.

The committee will question Lisa Fairfax and Hester Peirce for the SEC positions at the hearing as well as Matthew Jeppson to be director of the U.S. Mint.

But 13 other nominations remain, including for two Federal Reserve Board governors, the U.S. Treasury's top anti-terrorist finance official and a U.S. Export-Import Bank board member.

Without the EXIM board member approved, the trade bank cannot approve large loans or guarantees above $10 million, effectively locking it out of deals for Boeing Co commercial aircraft or major power equipment made by General Electric.

Conservatives, including Shelby, had waged a major campaign to close the trade bank last year, idling it for more than five months before Congress voted to renew its charter. He told Reuters in December that the EXIM nomination would be a "lower priority for him."

The Fed nominees, former community banker Allan Landon and University of Michigan economist Kathryn Dominguez, would restore the central bank's board to its full capacity of seven members.

Many had written off their chances of being confirmed, in part because of the testy relationship between Congress and the Fed, which has opposed Republican bills it says would curb its independence.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Chris Reese)