Under an agreement announced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tonight, senators will vote to advance Yellen’s nomination tomorrow, with the confirmation vote set for when the chamber returns after a holiday break.
The agreement breaks a partisan tug-of-war that has slowed Democrats’ efforts to confirm a slate of 10 presidential nominees, including Yellen, before adjourning for the year.
Faced with vows by Republicans to use all the available time before confirming Yellen -- until 6 p.m. on Dec. 21 -- Reid agreed to take up confirmation next month in exchange for locking in votes tomorrow on three other nominees.
The Senate will consider tomorrow the nominations of John Koskinen to be the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Alejandro Mayorkas to be deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, and Brian Davis to be a U.S. district judge in Florida.
Yellen needs the backing of a simple majority of the chamber’s 100 members to to become the 15th chairman and first woman to head the central bank in its 100-year history.
If confirmed, she will replace Ben S. Bernanke, whose term as Fed chairman expires Jan. 31.
Reid, a Nevada Democrat, sought to clear a way for swift confirmation of Yellen, 67, by meeting with Republican Senator Rand Paul to work out a way to limit time for debate, said Richard Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat.
“I know they had a good dialog, and they came away from it feeling very positive,” Durbin, of Illinois, said today at the Capitol. “But keep in mind that it isn’t just Rand Paul that’s a problem when it comes to Janet Yellen.”
Paul, of Kentucky, had pledged debate Yellen’s nomination as long as possible -- a maximum of 30 hours under Senate rules -- unless he’s promised a vote on legislation requiring a public audit of the Federal Reserve’s operations, including setting the benchmark interest rate.
Republicans spent the week using up all available time for debate on legislative items to protest a Nov. 21 Senate rules change. The shift denied them the ability to block Obama’s choices for executive branch and most judicial posts.
The meeting yesterday between Reid and Paul may have marked a breakthrough between the majority leader and a Republican who has tried to thwart the Democrats’ agenda in the chamber.
Paul in March blocked a vote on confirming John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency until he won a White House pledge against the use of drones to attack Americans. Paul spoke for more than 12 hours.
Reid, a Nevada Democrat, described the meeting with Paul to reporters in Washington, saying he’s “grown to really like” Paul in spite of their political differences. He really has some set political views but he wants to get things done here,’ he said.
Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the chamber’s third-ranking Democrat, said he didn’t think Paul should get a vote on his legislation as a reward for ending the delay.
“I don’t think it should be used to hold up a nomination,” Schumer said at the Capitol yesterday, referring to Paul’s measure. “We’ll see what happens.”
The agreement reached tonight include’s no promise to consider Paul’s proposal.
Obama tapped Yellen to lead the central bank after front-runner Larry Summers, a former Treasury secretary, dropped out three months ago amid opposition from Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee.
“We need her expertise at the helm of the Fed as our nation continues to recover from the great recession, completes Wall Street reform rule-makings and continues to enhance the stability of our financial sector,” Senate Banking Chairman Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, said in a floor speech.
Yellen, a main architect of the Fed stimulus’s programs, indicated in her Nov. 14 confirmation hearing that she’ll maintain current policies until a “strong recovery” permits the bank to scale back monetary accommodation. She played down risks that the stimulus is inflating asset prices, saying she doesn’t see “bubble-like conditions” for stocks.
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