Ben Bernanke was just confirmed by the Senate again–the vote was 70-30, which gives the suddenly controversial chairman another term at the helm of the Federal Reserve.
The vote carried at least a small amount of drama, after a flurry of senators from both parties announced they’d vote against Mr. Bernanke’s confirmation. The Wall Street Journal even set up an online chart to note the defections and track where each senator stood on the nomination.
Chuck Schumer was squarely in support of Mr. Bernanke. But, as late as this morning, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand–who has been criticized for following Mr. Schumer’s lead–was still “Declared Undecided” by the W.S.J. (Two inquiries from the Observer to Ms. Gillibrand’s office–one last week and one early this afternoon–failed to clarify the matter.)
Ms. Gillibrand’s position on financial issues has taken on a newfound significance since Harold Ford Jr.–an employee of Merrill Lynch who has pledged to support the financial services industry–announced he was considering a possible run against the appointed senator. In his first interview with the New York Times, Mr. Ford criticized Ms. Gillibrand for voting against the TARP bill and for not doing enough to protect Wall Street. (At the time of her vote, Ms. Gillibrand said she supported the need to recapitalize the banks, but felt the government should receive equity “to protect the taxpayer.”)
A vote against Mr. Bernanke would have been seen as a rebuke to President Obama; the Senate has never rejected a president’s nomination for Fed chairman.
Ms. Gillibrand, in the end, voted in favor of Mr. Bernanke’s confirmation.