This exciting development from Firedoglake:
As Ben Bernanke’s confirmation hearing begins in the Senate Banking
Committee, a source tells FDL News that one Senate staffer and an
outside source confirmed to him that at least one Republican on the
committee will also place a hold on the Federal Reserve chairman,
throwing the process into potential turmoil and giving Chris Dodd a
difficult series of choices to make.
Dodd, who just announced his intention to vote for Bernanke’s
confirmation in the Banking Committee and on the floor of the Senate,
would be in charge of the decision to honor or ignore that hold. The
fact that Dodd tried to place a hold on the FISA Amendments Act in
2007-08, and was generally ignored by Harry Reid, just adds a layer of
irony to the process.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of his work
behind the scenes on the Bernanke confirmation, told me that two
separate sources assured him that the Republican hold would be made
public after today’s hearing. One staffer said that two Republicans
would place the hold, while the other said it would just be one. The
source said that the trans-partisan nature of opposition to Bernanke,
with a conservative Republican and a socialist independent uniting to
block the appointment, shows the intensity of the feelings on the
issue. “It’s great to see everyone come together – Democrats,
Republicans, progressives and libertarians, against this Federal
Reserve, which is not federal, and not a reserve, just a group printing
money and giving it to their buddies,” the source said.
While most people think that the multiple holds would delay the
process, it’s unclear whether or not it would succeed. Dodd would
probably have the discretion to roll over the hold in committee, though
he may be reluctant to do so, experts in Senate procedure said. Harry
Reid could also seek cloture on the motion to proceed on Bernanke’s
nomination on the floor, which would require 60 votes.
At the very least, this delay and the publicity surrounding
bipartisan opposition to Bernanke would bring attention to the issue of
the Federal Reserve and the desire for transparency, like the movement
to audit the Fed. That provision has already passed in the large
financial reform bill in the House Financial Services Committee, and Barney Frank said yesterday
that he didn’t expect any changes to the bill as it passed the House,
citing the public anger over the issue of transparency. There is
language on Fed audits in the draft financial reform bill written by
Sen. Dodd, which also strips the Fed of some of its power, but it is
not the same as Bernie Sanders’ audit the Fed bill, which has as many
as 30 cosponsors.
The source, who has been working on the Federal Reserve issue for
five years, marveled at how the issue has gained so much new attention
during the financial crisis. “Up until last year, nobody knew what the
Fed was. Ron Paul got 5 co-sponsors on his audit bill when he first
introduced it, and now we have 300.”
Sen. Dodd’s office has not yet responded with a comment.