But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had initially voted for the nominee, switched to vote against her, giving him the procedural right to bring her up for another vote in the near future. It’s not clear when that might happen. The final vote was 47-50.
At issue was a group of GOP senators who, like all Democrats, oppose Shelton’s nomination combined with a spate of GOP absences — some caused by potential exposure to Covid-19 — that are making the math tricky for Republican leaders as they try to get her confirmed.
Shelton has advocated a number of unusual policy ideas, including a return to the gold standard, which would link the US dollar’s value to the price of gold. America abandoned it in 1971. She has also attacked the Fed’s independence. In 2011, she called the central bank “almost a rogue agency.” This has been particularly problematic given the President’s continued criticism of the central bank, which is headed by another Trump pick, Chairman Jerome Powell.
Three Republicans already had already come out against Shelton — Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — meaning she had a narrow path to confirmation to begin with.
Further complicating the count, Alexander said that because of a family situation he would not be in the chamber to cast his vote against Shelton.
McConnell’s move meant Grassley and Scott could be back to vote for Shelton but with the Senate away next week for Thanksgiving, McConnell would likely not be able to schedule that until the following week.
But by that point, Sen.-elect Mark Kelly, a Democrat who won a GOP seat in the special election in Arizona, is expected to be sworn in, meaning there would likely be one more Democratic “no” vote standing in Shelton’s way.
“There is a little bit of a complicated factor in the Arizona seat,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune, a South Dakota Republican.