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Banking Committee Approves Bernanke Nomination

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee voted 16-7 to confirm Ben Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

But even panel members who supported Bernanke’s nomination to a second four-year term had choice words for him.

“It’s a tough vote for me,— Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said. “I’m not certain yet what I’ll do on the Senate floor. But my hope is that Chairman Bernanke understands it’s about jobs and job creation, and he needs to focus on that.—

Bernanke on Wednesday was named Time’s 2009 “Person of the Year.—

Brown was one of several Members to issue a lengthy statement on Bernanke from the dais. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), who has been among the most harsh in his criticism of Bernanke, hammered the Fed chairman in a statement that lasted more than 10 minutes.

“Chairman Bernanke destroyed the independence of the Fed,— said Bunning, who has pledged to put a hold on Bernanke’s nomination when it reaches the floor. “He bowed to the political pressures of the Bush and Obama administrations and turned the Fed into an arm of the Treasury.—

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) was the lone Democrat to vote against Bernanke. Republican Sens. Bob Bennett (Utah), Judd Gregg (N.H.) and Mike Johanns (Neb.) joined Democrats to vote in favor.

Despite the criticism, several Banking Committee Senators also lauded Bernanke for stemming off a great depression last year and steering the economy into a more stable position. Bernanke’s current term expires Jan. 31, and it is unclear when his nomination will move to the Senate floor. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will likely have to file procedural motions to move the process along, since Bunning, Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and David Vitter (La.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have all pledged to place a hold on the nomination.

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