Democrats Still Divided on Bernanke, but Confirmation Expected

Posted January 27, 2010 at 11:24am

Senate Democrats are still divided over the nomination of Ben Bernanke to serve a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve, but even his opponents admit he will likely be approved by the end of the week.

“The conventional wisdom is that he will get the cloture motion and he will pass,— Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said Wednesday.

Boxer said she plans to vote for the cloture motion to consider the nomination, but she ultimately intends to vote “no— to confirm him to a second four-year term. A handful of other Democratic Senators are expected to do the same; presumably allowing Bernanke’s nomination to go through while still maintaining their opposition.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) filed a cloture motion Tuesday night to proceed to the nomination. A vote on that procedural motion is set to occur Thursday, with final passage expected on Friday.

Durbin and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have been courting Democratic colleagues to vote in favor of the nomination. Some are still undecided, while others, such as Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), have recently announced their opposition. The leaders’ efforts have been buttressed by a fierce lobbying effort by the White House, which is eager to shift to the economy with Bernanke at the helm of the Fed. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and economic adviser Larry Summers have been whipping Members, and in recent days, their efforts have yielded additional supporters. Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) both announced this week that they would vote for Bernanke. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) is leading the charge to rally Republicans and is expected to deliver a dozen or so supporters from his side of the aisle.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is leading the charge to defeat Bernanke’s confirmation, arguing he didn’t do enough to stem the housing crisis and continues to enact fiscal policies that favor Wall Street over Main Street. Sanders spoke out against the nomination during last week’s policy luncheon and penned an editorial in USA Today on Wednesday titled “Ben Bernanke must go.—

Appointed in 2005 by President George W. Bush and renominated by President Barack Obama last year, Bernanke’s current term expires on Sunday.