Magazine article American Banker

Positions Available: D.C. Appointment Mill Grinds to a Virtual Standstill

Magazine article American Banker

Positions Available: D.C. Appointment Mill Grinds to a Virtual Standstill

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -

The waning months of the Clinton presidency have produced two paths to filling key posts at the Federal Reserve Board and other regulatory agencies: the Alan Greenspan express and the road to nowhere.

Senate Republicans and the White House have been content to let two seats on the seven-member board remain empty -- one since July and the other since mid-1998. Similar vacancies or expiring terms challenge the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Housing Finance Board, and the National Credit Union Administration.

"It is a bigger number than normal," said Karen Shaw Petrou, president of the ISD/Shaw Inc. consulting firm here.

Observers and Capitol Hill veterans noted that such leadership vacuums are not uncommon when different political parties control the Senate and the White House, especially with a presidential vote months away.

"The Senate will tend to sit on it with the hope their party will take the White House, so it's more jobs for their guy to fill," Ms. Petrou said.

Few see any reason this year will be any different.

"Will we deviate much from the norm? I don't think so," said a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.

In contrast, Mr. Greenspan is getting fast-track treatment. Though six months remain in his third term as Fed chairman, he is considered so vital to the national economic psyche that President Clinton -- a lame-duck Democrat -- reappointed him on Tuesday and Senate Banking Chairman Phil Gramm, a Texas Republican, said he would move swiftly to confirm. A hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 26.

Elsewhere, interparty warring has had little or nothing to do with extraordinary sluggishness on nominations and approvals. It took the administration five and a half years to nominate Franz S. Liechter to one of two vacant seats on the five-seat Finance Board, for example. …

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