WASHINGTON — Ben Bernanke's bid for another term as Federal Reserve chairman took another hit Friday as Sen. Barbara Boxer said she would oppose his confirmation.
"It is time for Main Street to have a champion at the Fed," the California Democrat said in a press release. "Dr. Bernanke played a lead role in crafting the Bush administration's economic policies, which led to the current economic crisis. Our next Federal Reserve chairman must represent a clean break from the policies of the past."
Democratic support for Bernanke is crucial if he is to attract 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. With support from the Democratic caucus weakening — Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have already said they would vote no — Bernanke will have to attract Republicans.
That could prove difficult since five Republicans voted against even letting Bernanke's nomination get out of the Senate Banking Committee. Sen. Richard Shelby, the top GOP member on Senate Banking, was among those who opposed Bernanke in committee, and a spokesman said Friday he plans to vote no on the Senate floor as well.
The Obama administration reiterated its support of Bernanke on Friday.
"The President has a great deal of confidence in what Chairman Bernanke did to bring our economy back from the brink," White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters Friday. "He continues to think he is the best person for the job and will be confirmed by the United States Senate."
Timing is also an important factor in Bernanke's nomination fight. His term as chairman ends on Jan. 31 and unless the Senate signs off on his confirmation, he would likely have to relinquish the role at least temporarily to Don Kohn, the Fed's vice chairman.
Democratic leaders had hoped to vote on Bernanke's confirmation on Friday, but that plan was delayed as the party focused on other issues including deficit reductions and the Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race.
Bernanke met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday to discuss the nomination. A representatives from Reid's office said a vote would be scheduled before Jan. 31.