Janet Yellen’s fight to be confirmed as the next head of the Federal Reserve got a little easier Wednesday when Republican Sen. Bob Corker announced he would support her.
Yellen will need at least five Republican votes to be confirmed, since some Republican senators have threatened to use procedural moves to set a 60-vote requirement for confirmation, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Most observers, however, believe Yellen will be confirmed, and Corker’s announcement only strengthens that belief. The Tennessee Republican hasn’t exactly been quiet about his disdain for current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s easy-money policies – policies Yellen has indicated she would continue. But Corker said in a statement Wednesday that although he still has concerns about Yellen’s take on monetary policy, he’s convinced she’s qualified to head up the Fed after Bernanke’s departure.
“I would prefer to see someone who held a more modest view regarding the limits of monetary policy on our economy, and I have been clear about that,” Corker said. In particular, he was concerned about the Fed’s $85bn-per-month “quantitative easing” bond-purchase program, but said Yellen agreed that the program would have to wind down sooner or later.
“During our discussions, she made a commitment to moderate purchases as soon as she believes the data supports that action and shows that the current status cannot continue,” Corker said.
Mortgage industry watchers are, for the most part, happy with Yellen’s nomination precisely because she’s thought to be likely to carry on Bernanke’s bond-purchase program, which led to historically low interest mortgage rates and a boom in the refinance market. During the summer, the mere suggestion that the Fed might taper its purchases in September led rates to spike more than a full percentage point.