WASHINGTON — Janet Yellen's bid to become the first woman to head the world's most powerful bank advanced Thursday when the Banking Committee sent her nomination to the full Senate on a 14-8 vote.
Democrats enjoy a majority on the committee, but succeeded in getting three Republican senators_ Tennessee's Bob Corker, Oklahoma's Tom Coburn and Mark Kirk of Illinois_ to vote in favor of Yellen becoming the next chairman on Jan. 31.
In what could prove a problem in weeks ahead, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III voted against Yellen. In the full Senate, Democrats hold 55 seats, meaning they only needed five Republicans to vote in favor of lifting procedural barriers and going to an up or down vote on Yellen.
Losing Manchin means the Obama administration may need at least six GOP senators to sign on, and just because the Republicans voted her nomination out of committee doesn't mean they'll necessarily vote to lift procedural hurdles to allow a final vote.
One prominent Republican senator, Florida's Marco Rubio, announced Thursday he'd oppose her confirmation in the floor vote.
"While Dr. Yellen is an accomplished individual, I will be voting against her nomination to chair the Fed because of her role as a lead architect in authoring monetary policies that threaten the short and long-term prospects of strong economic growth and job creation," Rubio said in a statement that appealed for Florida's seniors on fixed incomes. "Altogether, she has championed policies that have diminished people’s purchasing power by weakening the dollar, made long-term savings less attractive by diminishing returns on this important behavior, and put the U.S. economy at increased risk of higher inflation and another future boom-bust."
Yellen, the Fed's vice chairman since 2010, is hailed by most economists as a good choice to take the helm from Chairman Ben Bernanke and become, arguably, the most powerful woman in the world.
"She has devoted a large portion of her professional and academic career to studying the labor market, unemployment, monetary policy, and the economy," Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-SD, said before the confirmation vote. He added, "As we saw in her testimony last week, Dr. Yellen understands the challenges facing our economy and the balance the Fed must strike as we navigate the path back to full employment."