WASHINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) - A senior Republican on theSenate Banking Committee said on Thursday he would opposeefforts to block the nomination of Janet Yellen as FederalReserve chairwoman with a filibuster unless some disturbingdisclosure emerged.
"I don't think I would filibuster a Fed nominee unlesssomething came up that was just horrible," Alabama SenatorRichard Shelby told Reuters Insider. "But that doesn't mean Iwon't speak against them, vote against them, work against them."
Shelby's sentiments are important because Democrats wouldneed to pick up only five Republican votes to clear proceduralhurdles to bring Yellen's nomination to a vote in the Senate where confirmation needs only a simple majority.
Democrats control the chamber 55 to 45.
"I don't believe we have ever filibustered a Fed chairman,"Shelby said shortly after meeting with Yellen for about 40minutes. "That job is so, so important. That doesn't mean Ihaven't voted against some. I have. I have supported some too."
Shelby's views are not shared by all Republicans.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has said he intends to place a"hold" on Yellen's nomination unless the Senate leadershipallows for a vote on legislation he has sponsored that wouldopen the Fed's monetary policy decisions to congressional audit.
Senator Lindsey Graham has also vowed an effort to blockWhite House nominees unless the Obama administration comesforward with more information about the 2012 attack on U.S.diplomats in Benghazi, Libya.
Democrats are confident they will be able to round up thevotes needed to prevent any attempt to obstruct a vote onYellen's nomination. President Barack Obama tapped Yellen,currently the central bank's vice chairwoman, to succeed FedChairman Ben Bernanke when his term expires on Jan. 31.
Although Shelby said Yellen should face an up-or-down vote,he made clear he had concerns about her nomination, although hesaid it was too early to say how he would vote.
"I have some concerns about the nominee," he said. "Also, Ihave a lot of concerns about the role of the Fed ... theportfolio of the Fed."
Many Republicans worry the central bank is courting sharplyhigher inflation and planting the seeds for asset bubbles withits aggressive easing of monetary policy. The Fed cut interestrates to near zero in 2008 and has roughly quadrupled itsbalance sheet to $3.80 trillion through a series of bondpurchase programs.
"Will this go on forever? When will it end? What will be therepercussions? There are a lot of serious complex questionshere," said Shelby, who voted against Yellen's nomination asvice chairwoman in 2010.
He said he planned to explore those issues in detail whenYellen comes before the banking panel for a hearing.
The committee, which vets the nomination before it goes tothe Senate, is considering holding a hearing on Nov. 14.
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