Ben Bernanke has been recommended for confirmation by the Senate Banking Committee this morning by a vote of 16-7. In the end, all Democrats on the committee but Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) voted for confirmation. On the Republican side, six Republicans voted against Bernanke and only four voted for him. The final tally can be found below.
Some Republicans have successfully cast themselves as opposed to Bernanke on principle, despite the fact that he was initially a nominee of a conservative President and has basically followed the same conservative principles that he espoused when heading George Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. Democrats, who for the most part defended Bernanke’s performance today, despite double-digit unemployment and a lackadaisical attitude from the Fed chair to do anything about that, mostly come off as the protectors of Wall Street with this vote. Only Merkley demurred from approving Bernanke, specifically because he missed the boat leading up to the financial crisis and has done little for “Main Street” in its aftermath. Sen. Sherrod Brown said that he agreed with Merkley that Bernanke hasn’t done enough to encourage job growth, though that “isn’t his main function.” But that’s not true. Among the core missions of the Federal Reserve is to maximize employment – even Bernanke would tell you that. It’s more than a little disturbing that a Democrat like Brown isn’t clear on the mission of the Federal Reserve.
Here’s the vote tally:
Aye: Dodd, Johnson, Reed, Schumer, Bayh, Menendez, Akaka, Brown, Tester, Kohl, Warner, Bennet (CO), Bennett (UT), Corker, Johanns, Gregg
No: Merkley, Shelby, Bunning, Crapo, DeMint, Vitter, Hutchison
The nomination now moves to the floor of the Senate, where at least five members – including Vermont independent Bernie Sanders – have placed a hold on the vote.