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POLITICS: PennAve

Sen. Bob Corker announces support for Janet Yellen, likely sealing her confirmation

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Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced his support for Janet Yellen's candidacy for Federal Reserve chair Wednesday morning, likely ensuring that Yellen will have enough Senate votes to win confirmation.

Corker's decision signals the beginning of the end of an unusually high-profile and politicized nomination process for a technocratic position that reached a fever pitch over the summer when the controversial former Obama adviser Larry Summers mounted a bid for the job.

Four Republicans have already said they will vote for Yellen, according to Bloomberg: Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Orrin Hatch of Utah. None of the 55 senators who caucus with Democrats have suggested they will oppose Yellen. With Corker's announcement, that makes 60 total votes for Yellen, meaning her nomination can overcome a filibuster.

Corker also may bring other Republican votes with him. He is a member of the Senate Banking Committee and one of the GOP members most involved in oversight of the central bank.

He voted against Yellen's nomination for vice chair of the Fed in 2010, citing her "dovish views" on inflation and monetary stimulus.

But in Wednesday's press release, Corker stated that, while he would prefer a candidate with a more "modest view" of monetary policy, Yellen "made a commitment to moderate" the Fed's stimulus asset purchases as soon as the economic data supports such a decision.

After a confirmation hearing last week and meetings between individual members and Yellen over the past few weeks, the Banking Committee is set to vote on approving Yellen's nomination on Thursday. If she is approved by the committee, her nomination would proceed to the full Senate.

In 2010, Ben Bernanke was confirmed for a second term as Fed chair in a 70-30 vote. That was an unusually contentious vote, with 11 Democrats and 18 Republicans opposing him. In 2006, before the financial crisis, bailouts, and recession led to a heightened politicization of the Fed, Bernanke was confirmed by voice vote, to minimal media coverage. It is unclear if Yellen will receive more than 60 votes.

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Author:

Joseph Lawler

Economics Writer
The Washington Examiner