Senator Sanders To Place 'Hold' On Bernanke Reconfirmation, Chairman Will Need 60 Senate Votes To Override

Tomorrow’s Bernanke reconfirmation hearing just got more interesting, courtesy of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who has stated he will put a “hold” on the Bernanke confirmation process, meaning the Senate will need to amass 60 votes in order to override and proceed with the confirmation process. Yet as the NYT notes: “though the Senate has been paralyzed by similar blocking tactics on
countless other issues, Mr. Bernanke probably has enough support in
both parties to clear the 60-vote hurdle.” It is time to call your Senators and remind them that at best only 21% of Americans favor Bernanke’s reappointment.

More from the NYT:

Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont, said Wednesday that he would try to block the Senate from confirming Ben S. Bernanke to a second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

The move is unlikely to derail Mr. Bernanke’s reappointment, but it
could slow the confirmation process and give the Fed’s critics
additional opportunity to press their case. As a practical matter, it
means Senate Democratic leaders will have to line up 60 votes in favor
of Mr. Bernanke rather than a simple majority at a time when the
Federal Reserve is under increasing populist attacks from lawmakers on
both the right and the left.

Mr. Sanders, an independent, is not a member of the Senate Banking
Committee, but he has frequently accused the Federal Reserve of bailing
out Wall Street firms and the banking industry at the expense of
ordinary citizens.

“In this country, there is profound disgust
at what happened on Wall Street,” Mr. Sanders said in a telephone
interview. “People want a new direction and people are asking, where
was the Fed? How did the Fed allow this to happen, when one of their
mandates to oversee the safety and soundness of the banking system?”

Sanders said he would place a “hold” on Mr. Bernanke’s nomination when
it reaches the Senate floor. Under Senate rules, lawmakers would need
to amass 60 votes to override Mr. Sanders and proceed with a vote on
the nomination.

As pointed out previously, Bernanke is a Bush legacy, yet is somehow supposed to represent Obama’s “change” agenda:

The Fed chairman was originally appointed by President George W. Bush
and took over the central bank in February 2006. Despite his Republican
ties, Mr. Bernanke forged a close working relationship with President Obama and his top economic advisers during the financial crisis.

And some more potential wild cards in tomorrow’s historing hearing:

Senator Christopher J. Dodd,
Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the banking committee, has said
Mr. Bernanke was “probably” the best person to lead the Fed because he
responded valiantly to the financial crisis when it began two years ago.

Mr. Dodd has also proposed stripping the Federal Reserve of virtually
all its powers as a banking regulator, and consolidating all the
federal government’s bank regulatory efforts in a new agency. In an
Op-Ed article last Sunday in The Washington Post, Mr. Bernanke sharply
criticized Mr. Dodd’s proposal.

Senator Richard C. Shelby
of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, has
also been sharply critical of the Federal Reserve but has not yet said
how he would vote on Mr. Bernanke’s nomination.

Even with Zero Hedge polling indicates a mere 11% of our readers would support Bernanke’s reconfirmation, a different poll by Rasmussen finds a comparable result: only 21% favor Bernanke as Chairman.

And here is a reminder of the confirmation whip count in the Senate Banking Committee:

Definite no: 2
Lean no: 3
No indication: 6
Lean yes: 7
Definite yes: 5
Definite no: 2

Bernie Sanders (I-VT):

Senator Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent who isn’t on the banking committee, said Nov. 29 on ABC television’s “This Week” that he will “absolutely not vote for Mr. Bernanke” and that the Fed chief is “part of the problem.”

Jim Bunning (R-KY):

Jim Bunning, the Kentucky Republican who was the only senator to oppose Bernanke’s first nomination in 2005, hasn’t changed his views.

‘His job rating would be zero minus F,’ Bunning said in an interview yesterday. ‘He has catered to the big banks, to the Wall Street elitists, to every major money concern in the country and in the world.’

It is possible that one or both of these Senators will place a “hold” on the nomination.  Such a procedural move would at least delay a vote on Bernake, which would provide opponents of his reconfirmation time to organize.  For more details on what a “hold” is, check Tom Coburn’s website (no one places more holds than Coburn).

Lean no: 3
Jim DeMint (R-SC):

“He’s [Bernanke’s] going to face some tough questions because he’s got a lot to answer for,” leading Fed critic Sen. Jim DeMint said through a spokesman. “The Fed’s mission is to guard the value of the dollar and to focus on employment, and right now their track record is looking very poor.”

Richard Shelby (R-AL):

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Banking committee, would not say how he would vote on Bernanke’s nomination, only encouraging reporters to stay tuned for the chairman’s hearing this week.

“I used to be a big defender of the Fed,” he said, adding he believes the institution has “utterly failed” in its role for regulating financial institutions.”

David Vitter (R-LA): As a support of auditing the Fed, everything I have heard is that Vitter is a no–and is even possibly willing to put a hold on Bernake.  Still, lacking a public statement to that effect, I won’t put him in the “definite no” category.

No indication:  6
Michael Bennet (D-CO):  No word for Bennet one way or the other.  His primary challenger, Andrew Romanoff, might be an interesting way to move Bennet on this one.

Mike Crapo (R-ID): Praised Bernanke’s nomination in 2005, but no word on where he stands now.

Herb Kohl (D-WI)

Three said they’re undecided, including Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl, Jon Tester of Montana and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

Kay Baily Hutchinson (R-TX): I can’t find any indication on Hutchison, one way or the other.

Jeff Merkley:

Three said they’re undecided, including Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl, Jon Tester of Montana and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

Jon Tester:

Three said they’re undecided, including Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl, Jon Tester of Montana and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.

Lean Yes:  7
Robert Bennett (R-UT)

Utah’s Robert Bennett said he’ll probably vote in favor

Sherrod Brown (D-OH):

“He’s been far from perfect,” Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said in an interview yesterday. “He was not quick enough responding last year to many of these issues that we care about, particularly in housing. I want him to focus on jobs. But I think he’s generally done a decent job.”

Tom Carper (D-DE):

“Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) all said they’d wait until hearing from Bernanke.”

Bob Corker (R-TN)

Corker noted that he leans toward supporting a second term for the Fed chairman, who was nominated in August to a second term by President Barack Obama, but acknowledged gripes toward the Fed chairman on the left and the right.”

Chris Dodd (D-CT, chair):

I’m inclined to be supportive. I think he’s done a far better job in the last couple of years than he did initially.

Charles Schumer (D-NY):

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) all said they’d wait until hearing from Bernanke.

Mark Warner (D-VA): Over email, a spokesman for Mark Warner told me “Senator Warner is inclined to be supportive of Bernanke’s reappointment, but he’s certainly not a fan of expanding the role or the power of the Fed as part of financial re-reg.”

Definite Yes: 5
Daniel Akaka (D-HI):  Bloomberg reports Akaka is a yes.

Evan Bayh (D-IN):  Bayh was the first prominent Democrat to support Bernanke in 2005.  According to Bloomberg, also support him in 2009.

Judd Gregg (R-NH):

Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican, said Nov. 20 he will “absolutely” vote for Bernanke.

Mike Johanns (R-NE):

Among Republicans, Nebraska’s Mike Johanns said Bernanke “will have my support.

Tim Johnson (D-SD):

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) — a favorite of Wall Street — told HuffPost that he has decided to vote to confirm Bernanke.