I just wanted to update where we’re at with the various holds on Ben Bernanke’s reappointment to the Federal Reserve Chairmanship. As I reported yesterday, Bernie Sanders, Jim Bunning and Jim DeMint have all signaled that they would put a hold on the nomination. Here’s DeMint’s full statement. Here’s the key point – DeMint is really trying to get Bernie Sanders’ audit the Fed bill a vote on the floor and using the Bernanke nomination as leverage:

On July 6, 2009, Senator DeMint attempted to get a vote on S. 604, which would remove restrictions on auditing the Fed’s discount window operations, funding facilities, open market operations and agreements with foreign central banks and governments. The vote was blocked but Senator pledged to keep fighting to force the Senate to vote on the measure.

“I will also object to floor consideration of Mr. Bernanke’s nomination until the Senate votes up-or-down on the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act. This bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has over thirty cosponsors and would allow the Government Accountability Office to conduct a full audit of the Federal Reserve. Americans deserve to know how their money is being managed so these mistakes never happen again.”

This is how David Vitter, the fourth Senator to place a hold, phrased it as well.

“Before we even think about moving ahead with Mr. Bernanke’s nomination, we should allow the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act to be discussed and debated on the floor of the Senate,” Vitter said. “We cannot prevent future failures by the Fed until we determine exactly how it operates.”

Vitter probably would have told Mike Stark this if he wasn’t “fringe media.”

In addition, sources tell FDL News that another hold is probably out there on an unrelated issue. But as a practical matter, the process for overcoming holds is largely the same no matter how many there are. It remains to be seen how Chris Dodd’s Banking Committee will handle it – as well as Harry Reid on the Senate floor.

These kinds of holds from Republicans have held up nominations for Obama’s appointments, sometimes for months. Certainly there doesn’t seem to be much support to move Bernanke’s nomination immediately, and with the holds, it could be delayed at least into next year. And with that delay, the focus on auditing the Fed, clearly the leverage point here, becomes more intense.

The Washington Post’s writeup of yesterday’s hearing is here.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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