President Joe Biden has put forward a number of federal nominees who are viewed as problematic by many Republicans for a variety of reasons, typically with respect to a lack of experience for the prospective position or evidence of partisanship and advocacy of divisive policies.
Senate Republicans managed to block on Tuesday, albeit only temporarily, a Biden nominee who allegedly falls into both of those categories — Federal Reserve Board nominee Dr. Lisa Cook, Breitbart reported.
The GOP opposition to Cook was led by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, who raised objections to her nomination over both her apparent lack of experience for the role to which she was nominated as well as a history of sharply partisan left-wing advocacy that would seemingly have no place in the Federal Reserve.
Republicans have blocked Cook’s nomination previously
The Detroit News reported that Dr. Cook, if confirmed, would be the first black woman to ever serve on the Federal Reserve Board.
She is currently a professor of economics at Michigan State University and had previously served as a senior advisor at the Treasury Department, specializing in managing financial crises, as well as on former President Barack Obama’s White House Council of Economic Advisors.
The outlet noted that this isn’t the first time that Senate Republicans have held up Cook’s nomination, as Democrats were compelled to resort to parliamentary maneuvers and a party-line vote by the full Senate just to get her nomination advanced out of the deadlocked committee last month.
GOP takes advantage of Democratic absentees
According to Marketwatch, the GOP block of Cook’s advancement to a confirmation vote Tuesday was able to succeed due to the fact that three Democrats who would be necessary to vote for her — Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), as well as potential tie-breaker Vice President Kamala Harris — were all unable to attend the vote due to recently testing positive for COVID-19.
Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) had sought to delay the cloture vote ending debate on Cook, but his counterpart Toomey objected and used the Democrat’s own talking points in doing so, citing Brown’s previously expressed outrage over delayed votes for other Biden nominees, Roll Call reported.
Thus, a full Senate vote was forced despite Democrats being shorthanded, which resulted in Cook’s confirmation failing by a margin of 47-51. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) ultimately changed his vote to side with Republicans against the nominee, though only so that he could later resubmit her nomination for another vote once all of the absent Democrats had returned.
An extreme partisan with little to no relevant experience
Breitbart noted that Sen. Toomey, in a floor speech outlining his objections to Cook’s nomination, referenced her “history of inflammatory partisan rhetoric and extreme left-wing political advocacy” that, in his view, would risk “politicizing” the purportedly nonpartisan Fed Board.
He also noted that “Cook has nearly zero experience in monetary policy” regardless of the fact that she has a Ph.D. in economics, and said it was “troubling” that the nominee had refused to state any sort of opinion or view on how to address inflation.
Of course, Brown and his fellow Democrats were quick to accuse Republicans of racism and alleged a “pattern” of the Senate GOP voting against the confirmation of black women nominated by Biden. Toomey countered, however, and Roll Call confirmed, that GOP senators have, in fact, voted previously to confirm at least five other black women nominated by Biden over the past year.