WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to say Thursday whether he thinks his chamber would confirm Herman Cain to join the Federal Reserve board, casting doubt on the former Republican presidential candidate’s prospects should President Donald Trump advance him for the post.
Asked if a Cain nomination would face problems, McConnell, R-Ky., noted that successful nominees must pass background checks and have a likelihood of confirmation.
“And as you know some of my members have expressed concern about that nomination,” the famously guarded McConnell told reporters. “But as far as I know it hasn’t been made yet.”
Three GOP senators — Utah’s Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer — told The Associated Press they’d likely vote against Cain. With Republicans controlling the Senate 53-47, it would take opposition from just four GOP senators to sink the nomination, assuming all Democrats are also “no” votes.
As he did earlier this week, McConnell also sidestepped a question about whether he would back Cain or Stephen Moore, a Fed critic and former Trump campaign aide, for the board. Trump has said he will nominate both men.
“We’ll see who’s actually nominated,” said McConnell.
Cain has run into concerns by lawmakers from both parties that as a Trump loyalist and deeply conservative political figure, he would threaten the Fed’s traditional political independence. Trump himself has taken a non-traditional approach to the Fed, repeatedly accusing it of mismanaging the economy by not pushing hard enough for low interest rates.
Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, ran for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He dropped out after allegations of sexual harassment and infidelity, which he denied. Last year, In September, he helped found a pro-Trump super political action committee, America Fighting Back PAC, whose website says, “We must protect Donald Trump and his agenda from impeachment.”
Cain formerly served on the board of the Fed’s Kansas City regional bank. He has also called for a return to the gold standard to control inflation, which most economists consider unworkable.
Moore is a conservative commentator and another Trump political ally.
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said elevating Cain and Moore to the Fed would risk politicizing the nation’s central bank and endangering the economy.
“These two appointments to the Fed are the worst, ill-suited appointment that the president could come up with,” she told reporters at a House Democratic conference in Lansdowne, Virginia.
AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro reported from Lansdowne, Virginia.