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Yellen Nomination for Fed Chairman to Get Vote This Week

Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen
Janet Yellen, vice chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve and U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee as chairman of the Federal Reserve, testifies before a Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 14, 2013. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

Janet Yellen’s nomination to be chairman of the Federal Reserve is scheduled for a Senate Banking Committee vote this week, advancing her confirmation.

The banking panel vote will be Nov. 21, setting the stage for a full Senate confirmation vote later this year. Democrats hold a two-vote lead on the 22-member committee and no Democrat has opposed her nomination. If confirmed, Yellen, the Fed’s current vice chairman, will become the first woman to lead the U.S. central bank.

Yellen, 67, would succeed Ben S. Bernanke, whose current term ends in January. Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, led an effort with 20 Democrats to send President Barack Obama a letter in support of Yellen before she had been nominated.

Yellen faces opposition from some Republicans who disapprove of the Fed’s recent monetary policy.

Republicans have opposed the bond-buying pace that has swelled the Fed’s balance sheet to almost $4 trillion. The Federal Open Market Committee began $40 billion in monthly purchases of mortgage-backed securities in September 2012 and announced the addition of $45 billion in Treasury securities to that pace in December.

Fed officials have said their current pace of purchases will continue until the labor market improves “substantially.”

In 2010, Republican senators including the banking panel’s top Republican, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Alabama’s Richard Shelby, Louisiana’s David Vitter and Tennessee’s Bob Corker, opposed her. They all remain on the banking panel.

Yellen would need the support of five Republicans to gain the 60 votes needed for confirmation on the Senate floor.

‘Very Qualified’

Senator Mike Johanns, a Nebraska Republican, has said he is “open” to her nomination. Corker said on Nov. 14 that Yellen is “obviously very qualified” and he has concerns over her positions on monetary policy. He is set to meet again with her this week.

Vitter said in a statement on Nov. 14 that he would vote no on Yellen’s nomination.

Yellen made clear “she would continue the Fed’s current policies of continuing ‘Too Big to Fail’ and free money, quantitative easing, with no wind-down in sight,” Vitter said in a statement.

Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, said he will oppose Yellen’s nomination unless he receives consideration of his measure requiring a public audit of the Federal Reserve.

In two hours of testimony before the banking panel last week, Yellen indicated she’ll press on with the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented monetary stimulus until she sees a robust recovery. Yellen signaled her determination to use bond buying to strengthen the economy and lower the nation’s 7.3 percent unemployment rate.

The Federal Open Market Committee has held its main rate near zero since December 2008 and pledged to keep it there as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5 percent and the outlook for inflation doesn’t rise above 2.5 percent.

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