Republican Senator Bob Corker said Janet Yellen is likely to win Senate confirmation to be chairman of the Federal Reserve, even though he has reservations about her.
“I think she’s probably going to be confirmed,” Corker, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, which decides whether to send candidates for the Fed to the Senate floor, said on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” which will air tonight and this weekend.
Corker said he opposed Yellen’s nomination as Fed vice chairman three years ago because she was too “dovish,” and he’s unlikely to support her this time. At the same time, he said he’s keeping an open mind.
“I do look forward to sitting down to her,” Corker, of Tennessee, said today. “I may misunderstand where she’s been. Some people have said that she’s really fixated on a 2 percent inflation target, and so we’ll see.”
Yellen, who has served almost a dozen years in various policy-making positions on the central bank, is a key backer of the unprecedented stimulus policies of Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, whose term ends on Jan. 31. She has also pushed the Fed to adopt a 2 percent inflation goal.
Corker, a critic of the Fed’s quantitative easing program, has proposed legislation that would remove the Fed’s full-employment mandate and have it focus on inflation alone. The Fed last month unexpectedly refrained from tapering the $85 billion monthly pace of bond purchases, saying it’s awaiting more evidence of sustained improvement in the economy.
Corker said today that while inflation remains low, it’s still too early to tell whether the Fed’s balance sheet, which is approaching $4 trillion, will spur price increases once the economy gains momentum.
“Once we unload or let this balance sheet mature, let’s see where we are,” he said.
Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee have voiced support for Yellen, who was nominated this week by President Barack Obama, and have a two-vote edge on the 22-member panel. On the Senate floor, Democrats would need the support of six Republicans to advance Yellen’s nomination.
Several Republicans on the panel have already raised concerns about her this week, including Idaho Republican Mike Crapo, the top Republican on the panel.
In 2010, Yellen was approved by the committee for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board by a vote of 18-5, with Senator Corker among the Republicans who opposed her. In a separate vote, the committee approved her nomination as vice chairman, 17-6.