Yellen confirmed by U.S. Senate to become 15th Fed chairman

Simple Majority

With rules now requiring a simple majority, the Senate last month confirmed nominees including Mel Watt to oversee mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Nina Pillard and Patricia Millett to be judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, slowed consideration of Yellen’s nomination while trying to get a Senate vote on legislation he proposed to audit all Fed operations, including monetary policy decisions. Democrats refused to consent to his demand.

Yellen won support from Republican Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma -- along with 11 of 12 Democrats on the banking panel in the committee’s 14-8 vote on Nov. 21.

Manchin Shift

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia was the only committee Democrat voting in opposition in the committee.

“Dr. Yellen is a very intelligent and capable nominee, but her views and beliefs to continue quantitative easing, despite a failure to see any real gains, greatly troubles me,” Manchin said in a statement, referring to Fed bond purchases.

Manchin shifted to support Yellen in today’s full Senate confirmation vote, saying “in light of recent news that the Fed will begin to taper” its bond purchases, “I now feel comfortable” supporting the new chairman.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement that Yellen “has the right priorities, the right experience, and the right temperament to lead the Fed at this important time.”

The Senate in January 2010 voted 70-30 to confirm Bernanke for a second term, the most opposition since the chamber started confirming Fed chiefs in 1978.

Clinton Alumna

A former University of California at Berkeley professor, Yellen was a Fed governor from 1994 to 1997, chairman of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1997 to 1999, and San Francisco Fed president from 2004 to 2010. She has served as the central bank’s vice chairman since 2010.

Yellen’s confirmation won praise from groups aligned with Democrats, including the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation.

“While austerity on Capitol Hill has needlessly and tragically prevented fiscal policy from helping the 99 percent, Yellen ensured that the Federal Reserve could mitigate the tragedy with robust monetary policy,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said following the vote. “As chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen will deepen the commitment to the Fed’s ‘dual mandate.’ As a result, job creation will be prioritized as it deserves.”

Support from groups that represent banks was more tepid. Rob Nichols, president of the Financial Services Forum, a Washington group representing the CEOs of 19 of the nation’s largest financial institutions, said the group “looks forward to working with Chairman Yellen to ensure sound monetary policy, a safe and strong financial sector, and globally competitive financial markets that are able to fuel economic growth and job creation.”

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