Today Janet Yellen became the first female confirmed to chair the powerful Federal Reserve. In a 56 – 26 vote her confirmation continues to clear the path set by Senate Speaker Harry Reid to remove the log jam of presidential appointees who been stalled by the opposing party.
Yellen is currently vice chair of the Fed and is set to take the helm February 1st replacing her current boss Ben Bernanke who is retiring.
On October 9th when her appointment was officially announced, the partisan rhetoric started and those opposing any of President Obama’s appointees immediately went after Yellen.
“I voted against Vice Chairman Yellen’s original nomination to the Fed in 2010 because of her dovish views on monetary policy,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said Tuesday night. “We will closely examine her record since that time, but I am not aware of anything that demonstrates her views have changed.”
While her confirmation was never in doubt, it was a matter of how long it would take. That issue was put to rest on November 21st when Speaker Reid invoked the “nuclear option” which changed voting for presidential appointees. Instead of the previous protocol requiring a super majority or 60 votes, the nuclear option reverted to a simple majority for 51. While Reid’s move was controversial, his justification was partisan politics was delaying the Senate’s work. A further review adds to irritation to those who opposed her as had the nuclear option not been in effect, the confirmation vote today would not have been successful.
Even before today’s vote there was continued pessimism, “I fear that they are already in way too deep,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, on the Senate floor, before the confirmation vote. Mr. Grassley questioned how the Fed would pull back on its recent campaign of large-scale asset purchases “without spooking investors,” and whether that might stoke inflation.
Prior to joining the Fed, Yellen was a noted academician. While at Cal Berkeley she was noted for her studies on unemployment. Those in support of her confirmation are breathing a sigh of relief as one issue confronting political leaders as they start 2014 is tackling public policy relating to unemployment.
"Janet helped pull our economy out of recession and put us on the path of steady growth. Janet is committed to the Fed’s dual mandate of keeping inflation in check while also addressing our most important economic challenge by reducing unemployment and creating jobs. And she understands that fostering a stable financial system will help the overall economy and protect consumers. I am confident that Janet will stand up for American workers, protect consumers, foster the stability of our financial system, and help keep our economy growing for years to come." President Barack Obama
The Federal Reserve is in charge of U.S. monetary policy.