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Supreme Court Vacancy One of Many Stymied by Gridlock

U.S. News & World Report

Thursday, February 18, 2016

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Debate has continued to swirl around whether Congress should even consider filling the vacancy left in America’s highest judicial body following the untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

But even if lawmakers refuse to consider appointing a nominee selected by President Barack Obama, it would hardly be the first time either Republicans or Democrats created congressional traffic jams to keep a major government body short-staffed for partisan purposes.

In fact, throughout last year’s will-they-or-won’t-they interest rate saga, the Federal Reserve was actually a few important cards short of a full deck. Though it didn’t garner the same kind of media coverage as the new Supreme Court vacancy, the Fed’s Board of Governors hasn’t been at full capacity in nearly three years.

And if one more member of the board leaves office, life at America’s central bank could become even more complicated – and potentially more public…

“The membership of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors stands now where it has for more than a year-and-a-half: at five confirmed governors and two vacancies,” a team of researchers at the Bipartisan Policy Center wrote in a December blog post. “This situation is a bit precarious because if one of the five governors were to leave, it would be difficult for the board to operate effectively.”