President Donald Trump’s recent decision to tap former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain for a spot on the Federal Reserve Board is facing controversy in Congress. While Trump has yet to formally send the nomination to the Senate, some Republicans are signaling that Cain could face a contentious confirmation.
So far, GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Mitt Romney of Utah have said they would not support Cain’s nomination. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, did not say how he would vote but expressed concern that picks for the board should be “politically independent.”
Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, ran for president in 2012 but dropped out following allegations of an extramarital affair and sexual harassment, which he denied. He stayed involved with Republican politics and co-founded a Trump-aligned super political action committee in 2018 called the America Fighting Back PAC.
The seven-member Federal Reserve Board oversees U.S. interest rates that affect everything from mortgage rates and savings accounts to the value of the currency. Trump has nominated all the current members on the board except Lael Brainard, a nominee of President Barack Obama. Trump has strongly criticized Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell for raising interest rates, which the board did four times last year.
With a 53-seat majority in the Senate, Republicans could still confirm Cain if Murkowski, Gardner, and Romney voted against him, but only if every other GOP senator supported his nomination and Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie, or if a Democratic senator voted with his colleagues across the aisle.
Trump’s other recent pick for the Federal Reserve Board is also likely to face controversy on the Senate floor. On March 22, the president announced his nomination of Stephen Moore, a Heritage Foundation economist, for a position on the board. Moore has drawn fire for his past criticisms of the board, including calling on Powell to resign after a December 2018 rate hike. Moore has since backed down from that criticism. —H.P.