The unusually public debate over who will succeed Ben Bernanke as head of the Federal Reserve is coming to a close, as expected, with the nomination of Federal Reserve Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen. White House officials say President Obama will officially announce his pick on Wednesday afternoon with both Yellen and Bernanke present. Assuming she’s confirmed by the Senate – which has some other fiscal issues on its plate right now – Yellen will become the first Democrat to run the Fed since 1987, and the first woman to head the nation’s central bank, or any major central bank in the world.
Yellen became the front-runner for the position in September after Larry Summers, who was reportedly President Obama’s first choice, withdrew his name from consideration upon concluding that “any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious.” Yellen’s confirmation is expected to be far easier. “I think she has a very good chance of being confirmed,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer. “I think she will have bipartisan support.”
Still, Yellen may not breeze through the confirmation process. She must be approved before Bernanke’s term ends Jan. 31, clearing the Senate Banking Committee and then the full chamber, where she’ll need 60 votes if the GOP filibusters. Yellen will probably be able to pick up the handful of Republican votes she needs, but not before the senators air their concerns about her support for Fed policies that they believe may accelerate inflation. “I voted against Vice Chairman Yellen’s original nomination to the Fed in 2010 because of her dovish views on monetary policy,” said Republican Sen. Bob Corker on Tuesday evening. “We will closely examine her record since that time, but I am not aware of anything that demonstrates her views have changed.”
Once she’s survived that process, she’ll just have to figure out when and how to scale back the Fed’s $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program without causing an economic slump, and deal with whatever financial disasters happen to come up in the next four years.