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Bernanke's Re-Appointment As Fed Chairman Approved By Senate Banking Committee


The Senate Banking Committee approved Ben Bernanke's re-appointment as Federal Reserve Chairman Thursday by a 16-7 vote.

Committee Chairman Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who voted for Bernanke, argued, "I happen to believe had he and others not acted . . . at a time of critical importance of our country, we'd be looking at a very, very different and far more dire situation in our nation than is otherwise the case."

Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Al., the top Republican on the committee, was one of the strongest votes against Bernanke.

"I strongly disapprove of some of the past deeds of the Federal Reserve while Ben Bernanke was a member and its chairman," Shelby said during the hearing, "and I lack confidence in what little planning for the future he has articulated."

He added that those opposed to the nomination "must not only express our disapproval of this particular nominee, but we must also signal future nominees that we have expectations, and that those expectations must be met."

Fellow Republican Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., on the other hand, was supportive on Bernanke's nomination, saying that all federal regulators have "made mistakes" and that removing Bernanke would mean the country would have to "start with a clean slate" with all regulators.

"I think Chairman Bernanke gets up every morning," Corker added. "I think he tries to do those things that he believes are best for this country. I believe that. I don't believe he has a political cell in his body."

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., opposed Bernanke's nomination, saying Bernanke "failed on his job."

"Why would you want to appoint someone to this important position with that kind of track record?" Sanders argued.

All but one Democrat voted for Bernanke's re-appointment. Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., was the only Democrat to vote against him.

Meanwhile, all but four Republicans voted against Bernanke. Senators Corker, Robert Bennett, R-Utah, Judd Gregg, R-N.H., and Mike Johanns, R-Neb., voted for his re-appointment.

With Bernanke's re-appointment clearing the committee, it now moves to the full Senate for a final vote. The Senate is not expected to vote on his re-appointment until after it reconvenes after a holiday break on January 19. Bernanke's current term expires on January 31.

It is expected that Bernanke's re-appointment will face some stiff resistance on the full Senate floor. Some Senators, such as long-time Bernanke critic Jim Bunning, R-Ky., have even flat-out stated that they will try to delay the nomination process for as long as possible.

During the December 3 hearing where Bernanke argued why he should be re-appointed, Bunning said he would "do everything I can to stop your nomination and drag out the process as long as possible."

Much of the criticism comes from lawmakers who feel that Bernanke and the Fed were too negligent in preventing the financial collapse.

Others place the blame on the Fed for making the housing bubble worse by keeping interest rates too low for too long.

The approval from the committee comes one day after Bernanke was named Time Magazine's person of the year, though the committee has maintained that would have no bearing on their decision.

In referencing Time's decision at the hearing Thursday, Bunning said, "Chairman Bernanke may wonder if he really wants to be honored by an organization that has previously named people like Joseph Stalin twice, Yasser Arafat, Adolf Hitler, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Vladimir Putin, Richard Nixon twice, as their person of the year. But I congratulate him and hope he at least turns out better than most of those people."

Bernanke was not in attendance for the vote.

by RTT Staff Writer

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