By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: February 16, 2022 ~
Yesterday, Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, orchestrated a boycott among his Republican colleagues on the Committee. Republicans refused to attend the scheduled vote at 2:15 p.m. yesterday for President Biden’s nominees to serve on the Federal Reserve. Without the presence of Republicans, the Committee lacked a quorum and could not vote.
The nominees scheduled for a vote included Jerome Powell, for his second term as Fed Chair; Lael Brainard for Vice Chair; Sarah Bloom Raskin for Vice Chair for Supervision; Lisa Cook for Fed Governor; and Philip Jefferson for Fed Governor. Sandra Thompson, nominated to be Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, was also scheduled for a vote.
Toomey’s main issue is with Sarah Bloom Raskin, who would be the Fed’s point person on supervision of the megabanks on Wall Street. The fear is that Raskin might actually assume that role instead of allowing it to be outsourced by the Fed to the crony New York Fed – which is literally owned by the Wall Street megabanks.
Wall Street doesn’t want Raskin in that role and neither does the fossil fuels industry because Raskin has written on the need to address the financial impact of climate change.
Toomey has been heavily financed throughout his career by both Wall Street and front groups for the fossil fuels industry.
According to the campaign financing tracking site, OpenSecrets.org, over the course of Toomey’s political career, his largest donor to either his Campaign Committee and/or Leadership PAC has been the Club for Growth, which has provided more than $1.26 million to Toomey’s coffers. That’s more than 7 times the amount of Toomey’s second and third largest donors, the hedge fund Elliott Management and Goldman Sachs, respectively. Toomey served as the President of Club for Growth from 2005 to 2009.
The Club for Growth is a dark money group that has pushed for things that the majority of Americans are against but big corporations have on their wish list: the privatization of Social Security; the destruction of workers’ rights and unions; and the deregulation of dangerous industries.
Another front group that has supported Toomey is the Freedom Partners Action Fund. It pumped at least $4.3 million into running attack ads against Toomey’s Democratic challenger, Katie McGinty, in the 2016 U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania.
Charles Koch, the billionaire Chairman and CEO of the fossils fuels conglomerate, Koch Industries, and his trust gave $14 million to the Freedom Partners Action Fund Super Pac from 2014 through July 2018 according to OpenSecrets.org. Time Magazine’s Philip Elliott reported in January 2017 that “In seven of the eight up-for-grabs U.S. Senate races last year, the Koch-backed candidate won. In all, Koch-backed candidates at all levels of races prevailed 96% of the time—a record any outside group would covet.” (For more on how Freedom Partners’ money molded the Trump administration, see our report here.)
It is likely that Toomey would have had little trouble getting his Republican colleagues on the Senate Banking Committee to follow his lead with the boycott. A significant number of Republican Senators on this Committee have ties to Koch money, Wall Street money and/or the Club for Growth.
Calling Toomey’s credibility further into question on his hostility toward Raskin is the fact that the full Senate has previously unanimously confirmed her twice before: once as a nominee for Fed Governor and once as a nominee for Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, said that the Republican boycott that prevented a vote on qualified nominees yesterday meant that “Republicans have walked out on the American people.”
Until Americans stand up and demand meaningful reform of campaign finance laws, these are the corrupting and disrupting influences we can expect in Congress.