Sen. Joe Manchin III signaled his opposition on Monday to President Biden’s nominee for vice chair of the Federal Reserve System, making confirmation all but impossible in the evenly split Senate.
Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, said he was unable to support Sarah Bloom Raskin for the post over concerns about inflation and rising energy costs.
“Her previous public statements have failed to satisfactorily address my concerns about the critical importance of financing an all-of-the-above energy policy to meet our nation’s critical energy needs,” Mr. Manchin said. “The Federal Reserve Board is not an institution that should politicize its critical decisions.”
Mrs. Raskin, who served on the central banking system’s board of governors under former President Barack Obama, has drawn universal GOP opposition over her prior climate change activism.
In particular, Mrs. Raskin championed banks and financial regulators to cut off loans for fossil fuel companies in hopes of curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Ms. Raskin has repeatedly and specifically advocated that the Fed allocate capital away from the fossil fuel industry as a way to combat climate change,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican who has led opposition to the nomination. “She says the quiet part out loud.”
At least 41 oil-and-gas trade associations have warned that Mrs. Raskin would be a problematic addition to the central banking system, especially as gasoline and home heating prices are skyrocketing across the country.
Mr. Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, had for the most part remained quiet on the nomination. That situation changed, however, after inflation spiked to nearly 8% last month and Russia invaded Ukraine, scrambling the global energy market.
“At this historic moment for both the United States and the world at large, it is imperative the Federal Reserve Board preserves its independence and steers clear of any hint of partisanship,” Mr. Manchin said. “Instead, the Federal Reserve Board must remain hyper-focused on ending the inflation taxes hurting working families and getting more workers off the sidelines and back into the economy.”
Since the Senate is split 50-50 between both parties, Mr. Manchin’s opposition likely prevents the nomination from moving forward. The White House’s only hope for confirmation rests in the hands of Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.
Administration officials believe that either of the senators can be convinced to save the nomination, and are refusing to withdraw Mrs. Raskin.
“She has earned widespread support in the face of an unprecedented, baseless campaign led by oil and gas companies that sought to tarnish her distinguished career,” said White House spokesperson Chris Meagher. “We are working to line up the bipartisan support that she deserves, so that she can be confirmed by the Senate for this important position.”
But Ms. Collins told Bloomberg News late Monday that she won’t support the nominee.
“I think that Senator Manchin said it well this morning that he did not believe there was a path forward for the nominee and I would agree with that,” she said.
Mrs. Raskin, who also served as deputy secretary of the Treasury under Mr. Obama, is the wife of Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland. The congressman, who represents the Washington suburbs of Maryland, is a stalwart member of the far-left Congressional Progressive Caucus.
The 98-member group lambasted Mr. Manchin for months over single-handedly killing the White House’s $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change package.