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Janet Yellen

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has announced his intention to block the nomination of Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chair, unless the Senate holds an up-or-down vote on his Federal Reserve Transparency Act.

“As the Senate debates the nomination of the next head of the Federal Reserve, there is no more appropriate time to provide Congress with additional oversight and scrutiny of the actions and decisions of the central bank,” Paul wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday.

“Accordingly, I will object to any unanimous consent agreement or the waiver of any rule with respect to the nomination of Dr. Yellen without a vote on S. 209,” he added.

Paul’s legislation, which he originally introduced in 2011, would mandate a complete audit of the Federal Reserve. Presently, government auditors are not allowed to review monetary policy deliberations.

When Senator Paul’s father, then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), introduced a similar bill in 2009, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke slammed the idea as a “nightmare scenario.”

“That is very concerning because there’s a lot of evidence that an independent central bank that makes decisions based strictly on economic considerations and not based on political pressure will deliver lower inflation and better economic results in the longer term,” Bernanke told the U.S. House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee at the time. ”

“The term ‘audit the Fed’ is deceptive,” Bernanke added. “The public thinks that auditing means checking the books, looking at the financial statements, making sure that you’re not doing special deals, and that kind of thing. All of those things are [already] completely open.”

The bill is supported by a significant portion of the Senate — 24 Republicans and one Democrat (Alaska’s Mark Begich) have co-sponsored Paul’s legislation — raising the question of whether Reid could find 60 votes to overcome Paul’s objection. If Yellen’s nomination faces a prolonged delay, it would likely reopen the argument over filibuster reform that was tabled when the Senate agreed to hold up-or-down votes on seven of President Obama’s nominees in July.

Photo: International Monetary Fund via Flickr

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