Rand Paul Back on the Filibuster: Federal Reserve, You’re Up

Update 1/6/2014 3:15 PM PT: Final vote on Janet Yellen’s confirmation: 56 Yes to 26 No

Update 1/6/2014 3:00 PM PT: The vote to confirm Janet Yellen as the new chair of the Federal Reserve began at approximately 2:30. The vote has reached a simple majority. Final vote to come.

Update 1/6/2014 2:15 PM PT: Rand Paul’s Facebook page announced that his flight to DC was delayed. He will not be in chamber for the vote.

On Monday, the Senate is expected to confirm the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the new chair of the Federal Reserve. However, the vote will not come without resistance. U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) may still filibuster the nomination even after the Senate changed the rules to allow a simple majority to not only push through executive and judicial nominations, but to end debate on these matters. Essentially, the ‘nuclear option’ creates a filibuster-proof Senate for the majority party without needing 60 members.

In the latter months of 2013, Rand Paul wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promising to filibuster Yellen’s confirmation until he agrees to take up his bill to audit the Federal Reserve. Paul is carrying the torch on the issue now that his father, former congressman Ron Paul, is not in office anymore. He introduced an “Audit the Fed” bill in 2013, but even though it has 27-cosponsors — including a mixture of Republicans and Democrats — it has not been considered by the Senate.

As many will remember, Paul received support from people of all corners of the political landscape during a 13-hour filibuster to stall the nomination of John Brennan to the CIA in order to bring attention to the issue of predator drone use both abroad and at home. Nationwide surveys suggest that he would receive overwhelming support for this cause as well.

What makes the debate over auditing the fed so curious is that the person blocking its progression, Harry Reid, once proclaimed himself to be the biggest advocate of auditing the fed. In a well-traveled video from 1995, Reid complained that the issue was not being taken seriously in Congress. In fact, as late as 2010, Reid supported auditing the fed, but once he became majority leader, his position suddenly changed. While it is considered unlikely Democratic co-sponsors will stand with Rand, a filibuster to audit the Fed may have a better chance than any other filibuster under the new rules.

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