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NEW YORK: US Senate action on President Joe Biden’s five nominees to the Federal Reserve stalled Tuesday after Republicans boycotted a key vote over objections to Sarah Bloom Raskin, the White House’s pick to be the central bank’s Wall Street regulator.

Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown delayed a vote on the slate, which includes Fed Chair Jerome Powell, after none of the 12 Republicans showed up for a scheduled vote Tuesday afternoon.

Senator Pat Toomey, the top Republican on the committee, had called on fellow Republicans to skip the vote, citing what he said were unanswered questions about Raskin’s past role on the board of a fintech company.

The development comes as the U.S. central bank is gearing up to raise interest rates to combat the highest inflation in 40 years.

“Instead of showing up to work, to do their job, Republicans have walked out on the American people,” Brown said to the other 11 Democratic senators on the 24-member panel who gathered for the vote.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the decision by Republicans to boycott the meeting was “extreme” and promised to work with Brown on a path forward for the nominations.

Lisa Cook, expert on economic scars of racism, now Biden Fed nominee

As of late Tuesday, that path was not clear, with Brown adamant he would not split Raskin’s nomination from the rest, a solution that Toomey had proposed.

“Democrats will argue that Republicans are being hypocritical by complaining about inflation while also blocking votes on these nominees,” Isaac Boltansky, policy director for brokerage BTIG, said in an email exchange. “Republicans will argue that Democrats are being unreasonable by refusing to pause on Bloom Raskin’s nomination.”

It is unclear, he said, “which side will blink first.”

Separately, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell met with Powell on Tuesday to discuss inflation and the economy.

POWELL STILL IN CHARGE

While his confirmation for a second four-year term as Fed chief is pending, Powell continues in a “pro tempore” chair role, remaining in charge of both U.S. monetary policy and the central bank.

Most Republicans on the panel back a second term for Powell, a Republican initially installed as Fed chair by then-President Donald Trump. His first term expired earlier this month.

But they are as one in opposing Raskin’s nomination as the central bank’s vice chair for supervision, the top US banking regulatory role, and have attacked her over past statements expressing support for using financial rules to police climate change. “Ms. Raskin’s repeated and forceful advocacy for having the Federal Reserve allocate capital and choke off credit to disfavored industries is alone disqualifying and reason enough to vote against her,” Toomey said Tuesday.

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