WASHINGTON -- Senators on Monday are expected to confirm
Yellen, 67, a former UC Berkeley economist, would be the first woman to lead the Fed after being nominated by President
The Democratic-controlled Senate has set a vote for 5:30 p.m. EST on Monday, its first day back after a holiday break.
Despite the historic nature of the appointment and a well-regarded background as the Fed's current vice chair and as former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, many
Yellen's confirmation vote probably will be the closest ever for a Fed chair, said Chris Krueger, a senior policy analyst at financial services firm Guggenheim Partners in Washington.
The smallest confirmation margin for a Fed leader was four years ago, when the Senate voted 70-30 to confirm
Bernanke's term expires Jan. 31.
Despite being a Republican originally nominated as Fed chief by President
They complained the Fed had overstepped its bounds in taking aggressive actions during the financial crisis and was risking runaway inflation with easy-money policies designed to stimulate the sagging economy.
Bernanke also was opposed by 12
Yellen has much more support among Democrats than Bernanke did four years ago, including many liberals who actively lobbied for President Obama to nominate her over former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers.
But she has less support among Republicans, many of whom have become increasingly frustrated by Fed stimulus policies that have swelled the central bank's balance sheet to about $4 trillion.
The Fed decided in December to start scaling back a key stimulus program, but is still purchasing $75 billion a month in bonds to try to boost growth and lower unemployment.
Krueger noted that the committee voted 16-7 to confirm Bernanke for a second term, a bit better than Yellen's tally.
"Her final confirmation vote will likely be the closest in history, as most Republicans will vote against" her, Krueger said. "But she has a minimum of 55 Democrats, five more than she needs."