Fed nominee Janet Yellen’s confirmation hearing expected in November
WASHINGTON -- The Senate Banking Committee expects to hold a confirmation hearing in November on Janet L. Yellen’s nomination to be the next head of the Federal Reserve as supporters try to get her formally in place before current Fed chief Ben S. Bernanke steps down in January.
Although Yellen confirmation is expected, a quick vote could be problematic because of some Republican opposition.
The committee has received Yellen’s paperwork, and she has meetings scheduled with individual senators, committee and White House aides said. Yellen, the Fed’s vice chair, was nominated in early October to succeed Bernanke as head of the central bank when his term ends on Jan. 31.
“We look forward to the Senate confirming her swiftly and in bipartisan fashion for this very important role,” Josh Earnest, principal deputy White House press secretary, said last week. A hearing date has not been set.
Yellen has strong Democratic support, but a number of Republicans likely will oppose her because she has been a strong supporter of the Fed’s unprecedented stimulus efforts, which conservatives believe are risking high inflation.
Also, some Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, more broadly believe that the Fed is too powerful and needs to be reined in.
Paul reportedly plans to block a confirmation vote by the full Senate. If he were to filibuster the nomination, Yellen would need the support of 60 senators to get a vote.
Paul wants the Senate to first vote on his proposed Federal Reserve Transparency Act, which would require a more complete audit of the central bank than is currently done by the Government Accountability Office. The legislation, which has 25 Senate co-sponsors, is similar to a House bill long championed by his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
“I say vote no on a new Fed chairman without a vote on my new ‘audit the Fed’ bill,” Sen. Paul said in an online video for Campaign for Liberty, a nonprofit free-market-advocacy group chaired by his father.
The senator’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Edward Mills, a financial policy analyst at FBR Capital Markets, said Monday it was unlikely Paul could block Yellen’s confirmation.
Mills said FBR was “skeptical that Senate Republicans are interested in this fight, especially so close to the government shutdown.” Such a fight could lead Senate Democratic leaders to change the chamber’s rules for filibusters on presidential nominations, which they threatened to do earlier this year before a bipartisan compromise in July.
Such a fight would turn out to be moot anyway, Mills said, because Yellen, as the Fed’s vice chair, would automatically take over when Bernanke’s term ends.
However, Mills said he did not believe the dispute would get to that point. Although a final vote could be delayed until January, he said, he expects that Yellen will be confirmed.
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