Yellen’s Confirmation Prospects Look Bright, Though Questions Linger For Republicans

By Alex Lazar

Oct 10, 2013 6:00am

Janet Yellen, the first woman to be nominated to lead the Federal Reserve, is receiving early praise from Democrats and is likely to face a far smoother Senate confirmation than Lawrence Summers, the man who was widely seen as President Obama’s top choice to lead the central bank.

Several key Democratic senators, along with others who have worked professionally with Yellen in the past, are voicing their vast admiration, if not outright support, for her confirmation. The early accolades suggest a far warmer welcome than the one that greeted Summers, who ultimately dropped out of the running amid tough questions from Democrats on his views of financial regulation and his ability to work well with others.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who sits on the Banking Committee, where Yellen will have her confirmation hearing, offered no reservations about the President’s choice to lead the Federal Reserve at a critical time in the nation’s economic recovery.

“Janet Yellen is an extremely experienced economist with a deep understanding of the Federal Reserve,” Heitkamp said in a statement.  Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chairwoman of the Budget Committee, had high praise for Yellen, 67, who was easily confirmed to her post as Vice Chairwoman by a voice vote in 2010.

“Janet Yellen is a fantastic and historic pick for a position that is more important than ever for middle class families and the economy,” said Murray.  Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Yellen was “eminently qualified” for the position and has the “support of a wide range of economists and financial experts.”  One of those economists is Alice Rivlin, who was Vice Chair of the Fed when Yellen served on the Board as a governor and was previously President Clinton’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

“Janet Yellen is a first-rate macroeconomist and an intellectual leader on the Board of Governors and the FOMC,” Rivlin said.  “She’s one of the people that everyone would listen to and is a good consensus builder.”  Former Clinton-era Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chair Ricki Helfer also gave her support to Yellen.

“Janet Yellen has a long track record demonstrating that she has three essential skills: great intellect, creative problem solving, and ample talent as an effective consensus builder,” says Helfer, who was also the Fed’s Associate General Counsel for International Finance for seven years. But a handful of Republican senators, some of whom sit on the Banking Committee, have already expressed skepticism on Yellen’s ability to focus equally on the Fed’s dual mandate to ensure maximum employment while also keeping inflation levels relatively low.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), said through a spokesman that he had “real concerns about her proclivity to print more money and her record as a bank regulator, which has been found wanting.”

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), also questioned “the Fed’s excessive printing of money.”

“My biggest question to Ms. Yellen will be, will she actively push for higher capital requirements for mega-banks than regulators have announced?” a spokesman for Vitter told ABC News. “My biggest concerns are that she won’t, continuing to support too big to fail and bailouts as needed.”

While it’s no guarantee that Yellen won’t face unexpected obstacles during the course of her confirmation process, Democrats will likely push for a quick vote, so that her historic nomination can come to fruition.

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