Chris Dodd just moved the Senate to a vote on the nomination of Ben Bernanke for the Chair of the Federal Reserve. Once the Senate scheduled this vote, it was a pretty good sign that they would have the necessary 60 votes to break a filibuster. Still, Democrats like Sheldon Whitehouse and Maria Cantwell have announced their opposition in recent days.
Multiple Senators, including Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Jack Reed (D-RI), announced support today. Murray’s statement is a representative sample, that Bernanke was partially responsible for the dire economic straits we face, but that he did a good job dealing with the crisis and saving the financial system, so he’ll get another term, reluctantly. An excerpt:
The Federal Reserve aggressively lowered interest rates to stimulate demand and drive economic growth. And the Fed created new, unprecedented programs to provide credit to households for consumer, auto, credit card and student loans. And it helped keep credit flowing to businesses when frozen credit markets threatened mass failures and job losses. The Fed’s actions are continuing to maintain stability today.
The concern across our state and nation about the pace of our recovery is understandable. I share that concern. I have shared it with Ben Bernanke directly. I told him I expect accountability and transparency from the Fed and a commitment to put the needs of American consumers ahead of Wall Street banks. And while I hope to see a shakeup in the Administration’s economic policies and a true push for reform on Wall Street, I will vote to reconfirm Ben Bernanke because we need his experience to help maintain the stability of our financial systems in this challenging time.
The vote is happening now. I will update when more is known, but I expect passage of the cloture motion….
OK, I didn’t catch them all, but here’s my running tally so far:
Yes: Alexander, Baucus, Bayh, Corker, Dodd, Landrieu, Durbin, Hagan, Harkin (an announced no, guess that didn’t include cloture), Inouye, Kerry, McConnell, Reed, Isaacson, Johnson, Stabenow, Bingaman, Lugar, Byrd, Menendez, Carper, McCaskill, Warner, Murray, Shaheen, Tester, Snowe, Chambliss, Hatch, Enzi, Wyden, Kaufman, Brown, Burris, Boxer (another announced no), Casey, Webb, Collins, Cochran, Reid. UPDATE: Nelson (NE), Kyl, Bond, Cardin, Kohl, Graham, Feinstein, Whitehouse (another announced no), Bennet (CO), Levin, Voinovich, Mikulski, Leahy, Gillibrand, Akaka, Schumer, Lincoln, Franken, Coburn, Bennett (UT), Lautenberg, Nelson (FL), Rockefeller, Lieberman, Klobuchar, Udall (NM), Udall (CO), Pryor, Barrasso, Murkowski, Dorgan (yet another announced no).
No: Bunning, Cornyn, Feingold, Hutchison, Inhofe, Merkley, Sanders, Shelby, Wicker, Grassley, Brownback, Crapo, DeMint, McCain. UPDATE: Ensign, Vitter, Cantwell, Risch, Thune, Specter (!), Sessions, Begich.
This is passing easily. Boxer and Harkin clearly see a difference between cloture votes and final votes that ConservaDems don’t. That’s helpful for leverage.
UPDATE II: My count shows that Bernanke has
68 70 votes for cloture so far. This is a done deal and not all that close. Chalk one up for the establishment.
UPDATE III: Final vote: 77-23 for cloture. Post-cloture time has been yielded back, so they’ll vote to confirm Bernanke right now. This needs only 51 votes for passage, and that should be an easy barrier. It will be interesting to see who besides Dorgan, Harkin, Whitehouse and Boxer vote yes on cloture and no on the final vote.
UPDATE IV: Dorgan, Harkin, Boxer, Kaufman, Whitehouse all just voted no on the final vote after voting yes on cloture. It just shows the asymmetrical warfare of the filibuster, and why it must be eliminated.
UPDATE V: The final vote was 70-30. Seven members flipped their vote. Bernanke gets his second term.
The Campaign for America’s Future, which was key in the fight against Bernanke, has a statement saying that the fight for Federal Reserve accountability is not over.
Though progressives have not succeeded in blocking Ben Bernanke’s renomination as chairman of the Federal Reserve—which was always a long-shot proposition—we now have on the historical record a detailed critique of his record during the financial crisis that we might not have had if a few key senators—starting with independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders—had not raised a roadblock to the renomination rush.
Still, a detailed critique on the Senate floor is not an audit of the Federal Reserve. We still do not have answers to key questions about the commitments made with taxpayer dollars to prop up Wall Street. Taxpayers deserve those answers, and that is why the fight must continue to have the Senate adopt the provision in the already-passed House financial reform bill that would allow for an audit that answers those questions.
UPDATE VI: The final flippers from the cloture vote to the final vote? ens. Barbara Boxer, Al Franken, Tom Harkin, Ted Kaufman, Sheldon Whitehouse, Byron Dorgan, and Republican George LeMieux.
UPDATE VII: Aaron Weiner notes that this is the closest Federal Reserve Chairman confirmation vote in several decades, believe it or not.