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Powell Gets Bipartisan Senate Backing After Trump Renews Assault

Max Reyes

(Bloomberg) -- Republican and Democratic senators urged Jerome Powell to defend the independence of the Federal Reserve, a bipartisan show of support after President Donald Trump renewed his public assault on the U.S. central bank and its chairman.

“Stay independent. I think you’re doing a great job,” Louisiana Republican John Kennedy told Powell on Wednesday during testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. “Call them like you see them.”

The encouragement, echoed by other senators including South Dakota Republican Mike Rounds and Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, follows repeated Trump criticism and comes a day before the panel’s hearing for the president’s latest picks for the central bank’s Board of Governors.

Lawmakers will consider nominations for Christopher Waller, currently the head of research at the St. Louis Fed, and Judy Shelton, who was an economic adviser to Trump’s campaign. Shelton has been criticized for lacking political independence, including by Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who sits on the panel.

Read more: Warren Blasts Fed Nominee Shelton for ‘Radical Statements’

Richard Shelby of Alabama, a senior Republican on the Senate panel, told reporters Wednesday he would like to support Shelton because she is the president’s choice, but will reserve judgment until after the hearing.

Trump has been hammering Powell and the Fed for well over a year. During testimony on Tuesday, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters said that the president had tweeted criticism of the central bank more than 100 times since picking Powell to lead the institution.

Another missive landed a short while later, blaming the Fed chief for the stock market’s morning slippage.

Asked by Representative Al Lawson of Florida if he had a reaction to the comment, Powell demurred.

“My colleagues and I are completely focused on using our tools to support the American people, to support the achievement of our goals,” Powell said in his House testimony. “That’s really all we’re focused on.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Max Reyes in Washington at mreyes125@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alister Bull at abull7@bloomberg.net, Jeff Kearns

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