Senate Banking has the ignominious distinction of being the only Senate committee to have not acted on a single nominee before it in the 114th Congress. There are currently 16 nominations waiting for Committee action. These aren’t small time positions — the logjam includes nominees to the Fed’s Board of Governors and senior Treasury, SEC, FDIC, and Ex-Im posts.
For months, Chairman Shelby has defended his Committee’s inaction by citing two issues — he was facing a live primary threat and President Obama has not yet nominated a Federal Reserve vice chair for supervision, a prerequisite.
Logjam Lifting at Long Last?
Shelby’s primary behind him, he has scheduled a March 15 hearing for two SEC nominees, Lisa Fairfax and Hester Peirce. Fairfax teaches at George Washington University and Peirce is a senior research fellow at George Mason’s Mercatus Center. The Committee will not be considering either of the two Federal Reserve nominees, nor Adam Szubin, nominated for Treasury’s top post in terrorism and financial crimes.
Even if the Committee confirms the three nominee scheduled for its next hearing, it will have hardly made a dent in the queue.
Nominations have continued despite the dearth of hearings on them. On March 3, President Obama nominated Brian Quintenz and Chris Brummer to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Quintenz, a Republican, works for Saeculum Capital in D.C. and Brummer, a Democrat, is a professor at Georgetown University Law School.
Backlog at Banking
With 16 unfilled vacancies before it (Messrs. Quintenz and Brummer will make it 18), the Banking Committee has its work cut out for it. The Chairman’s refusal to consider any Fed nominee until Obama nominates a vice chair for supervision means that those two critical positions may remain unfilled longest. Key vacancies exist at the Export-Import Bank as well, because the board does not have enough members to reach quorum it is unable to approve loans in excess of $10 million, severely hampering its impact on export promotion deals.
With so many nominees waiting to receive a hearing and the number legislative days the Senateremaining this session rapidly dwindling, it’s no surprise that the Democrats on Banking have been pushing harder than ever for the Chairman to move forward quickly.
In a letter sent to Sen. Shelby, Ranking Member Sherrod Brown and his colleagues wrote “For more than a year, the committee has failed to carry out one of its basic duties … Failure to act impairs agencies’ and offices’ ability to fulfill all of their functions.”
The pending list includes the nominations below:
• Allan R. Landon, of Utah, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the unexpired term of fourteen years from February 1, 2016 [PN 3]. (Reappointment)
• Kathryn M. Dominguez, of Michigan, to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for the unexpired term of fourteen years from February 1, 2004, vice Jeremy C. Stein, resigned.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
• Jay Neal Lerner, of Illinois, to be Inspector General, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, vice Jon T. Rymer, resigned
• Adam J. Szubin, of the District of Columbia, to be Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, vice David S. Cohen, resigned
• Amias Moore Gerety, of Connecticut, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, vice Cyrus Amir-Mokri, resigned
Securities and Exchange Commission
• Lisa M. Fairfax, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission for a term expiring June 5, 2020, vice Luis Aguilar, term expired
• Hester Maria Peirce, of Ohio, to be a Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission for a term expiring June 5, 2021. (Reappointment)
• John Mark McWatters, of Texas, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for a term expiring January 20, 2019, vice Sean Robert Mulvaney, term expired.