WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Janet L. Yellen as the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve on Monday, marking the first time that a woman has led the country’s central bank in its 100-year history.
As a Fed official, Ms. Yellen, 67, has been an influential proponent of the Fed’s extraordinary measures to revive the economy, even though interest rates are already close to zero. But as chairwoman, Ms. Yellen’s arduous task will be to oversee the gradual unwinding of those extraordinary measures, despite an uncomfortably high unemployment rate of 7 percent and subdued inflation.
During the confirmation process, senators from both sides of the aisle criticized the Fed for not doing enough to aid the economy and help middle-class Americans, and for trying to do too much, thus distorting the markets and risking new bubbles.
“I fear that they are already way too deep,” said Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, on the Senate floor, before the confirmation vote. Mr. Grassley questioned how the Fed would taper its recent campaign of large-scale asset purchases “without spooking investors,” and whether it might stoke inflation.
Despite those objections, Ms. Yellen won confirmation easily. Ms. Yellen was confirmed 56 to 26, with many senators kept away from the Capitol due to inclement weather. Nearly one dozen Republicans — including Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — crossed the aisle in support of Ms. Yellen. Ms. Yellen will be the first Democratic nominee to run the Fed since President Jimmy Carter named Paul Volcker as chairman in 1979.
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Mike DeVine/Joe For America
Analysis here at JFA.
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