Yellen’s Fed chairman nomination backed by five Republicans

Five Senate Republicans say they’re inclined to support Janet Yellen to be chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, which should give her the 60 votes she needs to be confirmed.

Republicans Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Orrin Hatch of Utah said in interviews at the Capitol that they would probably support Yellen when the nomination comes to the Senate floor, which may occur the week of Dec. 9. Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee announced today that he also would support her. The Banking Committee plans to vote tomorrow on advancing Yellen.

“In the end, I do believe she has the qualifications necessary to be the Fed chairman and plan to support her nomination,” Corker said in a news release.

Corker’s support would give Yellen the 60 votes needed to overcome a procedural obstacle and win confirmation. Democrats, who control 55 seats in the Senate, are united behind Yellen. She needs the support of at least five Republicans to overcome opponents’ attempts to thwart her confirmation.

“I’m inclined to,” Coburn said yesterday when asked if he would back her nomination. “She’s obviously qualified. I don’t agree with a lot of her philosophy, but she’s qualified.”

Coburn is a member of the banking panel, on which Democrats have a two-seat edge and therefore could recommend her confirmation even without Republican support.

‘Qualified Lady’

“She seems to be a qualified lady,” Graham said of Yellen, 67. He said yesterday he’s “inclined to support her” when asked about his position on her nomination.

Collins said she was “certainly inclined to support” Yellen, adding, “I believe that she’s well qualified for the position.”

Corker, a member of the banking panel, met with Yellen Nov. 18. He said today that she made a commitment to moderate Fed purchases of mortgage bonds as soon as she believes “the data supports that action and shows that the current status cannot continue.”

The Federal Open Market Committee began $40 billion in monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities in September 2012. Republicans have opposed the bond-buying pace that has swelled the Fed’s balance sheet to almost $4 trillion.

Corker said he is concerned that Yellen lacks the experience in systemic financial regulation and hopes she works to overcome “that deficit.”

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