WASHINGTON — Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby's easy victory in his primary battle in Alabama is fueling hopes he may soon move forward on a number of key financial nominations.
There are currently 16 nominations pending before the panel, including for two spots on the Federal Reserve Board and one for the position of Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes.
Shelby has ostensibly delayed the nominations because he wants President Obama to nominate a vice chairman of supervision at the Fed — a post that has been empty since it was created by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.
But analysts have suspected that Shelby's primary battle also played a role. The committee has held few hearings since last year as Shelby has focused on securing his re-election.
"With Senator Shelby's primary now finished we expect to see movement on financial nominees to the [Securities and Exchange Commission] and possibly the Federal Reserve Board," Isaac Boltansky, a policy analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading, wrote in a note to clients.
Democrats on the Banking Committee sent a letter to Shelby on Feb. 22 asking him to clear the backlog.
"For more than a year, the committee has failed to carry out one of its basic duties," the letter said. "It is the only committee in the Senate that did not act on a single nominee last year."
Hawaii banker Allan R. Landon was nominated by President Obama in January 2015 to represent community banks at the Fed. Kathryn Dominguez, an academic and economist, was nominated to the Fed board in July.
The SEC currently has two vacant seats on its board, and the Treasury's Adam Szubin has been serving as acting undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes since last year despite being nominated to the permanent position.
Shelby has been a senator for 30 years, but faced four primary challengers. The Washington Post raised concerns Tuesday that Shelby could fail to get the 50% threshold necessary to avoid a costly runoff election amid a Republican insurrection fueled by the businessman Donald Trump.
But Shelby spent millions in advertising during the past few months and ultimately won with 65% of the vote.