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Dodd Pledges Support for Bernanke, but Offers Criticism

Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Thursday tried to clear the way for Ben Bernanke’s confirmation to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve, even as he criticized him for his performance in recent years.“I will vote to support your nomination because I believe that you are the right leader for this moment in our nation’s economic history,— Dodd said at a committee hearing on the nomination.But Dodd, facing a tough re-election bid next year, said he remains “concerned about the weaknesses in the overall financial regulatory system that allowed the financial collapse to occur in the first place.— Bernanke was grilled by Members on the left and the right over monetary policy, the Fed’s oversight of the banking industry and whether the institution should be regularly audited by Congress to prevent the kind of financial meltdown that rocked the country last year. His nomination, while perhaps not in peril, has come under fire. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) each intend to place a hold on the nomination.Thursday’s Banking panel hearing comes as Dodd is pushing a massive financial regulatory reform bill that among other things would hand off some oversight authority from the Fed into smaller agencies. Bernanke has lobbied hard against those provisions, which Republicans have also expressed reservations about.Bernanke was renominated by President Barack Obama over the summer; his current term as Fed chief expires on Jan. 31, 2010. Both Dodd and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the panel’s ranking member, indicated Thursday there is in no rush to hurry the nomination along. Dodd said the Senate could vote on confirmation “as late as Jan. 30 if necessary.—At the Banking Committee hearing Thursday, Bunning angrily promised: “I will do everything possible I can to stop your nomination and drag out the process as long as possible.—

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