Reid announces support for Bernanke

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAmendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP Donald Trump is delivering on his promises and voters are noticing Danny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary MORE (D-Nev.) said late on Friday that he supports Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman.

The statement came after stock markets closed and amid a day of uncertainty about whether Bernanke had the necessary votes for confirmation. Reid himself had issued a vague statement on Thursday about whether he would support Bernanke.

"While I will vote for his confirmation, my support is not unconditional," Reid said in a statement. "I know Chairman Bernanke is committed to transparency and accountability, and that is why I will hold him to the highest standards of both."

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Most analysts believe Bernanke will win confirmation, but there are at least 13 definite votes in opposition. The stock markets took a plunge on Friday amid the uncertainty of Bernanke's confirmation. His term is up on Jan. 31.

"I made it clear that to merit confirmation, Chairman Bernanke must redouble his efforts to ensure families can access the credit they need to buy or keep their home, send their children to college or start a small business," Reid said. "He has assured me he will soon outline plans for making that happen, and I eagerly await them."

Sixteen lawmakers in the Banking Committee backed Bernanke's nomination and seven who voted no. Assuming those lawmakers do not change their positions, there are now 25 senators who back Bernanke and 13 who oppose him, according to a survey conducted on Friday by The Hill. Many offices declined to comment or indicated their boss was undecided.

Legislators who oppose Bernanke that do not sit on the Banking Committee include Sens. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate passes 6B defense bill Amendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP Trump ‘not happy about certain things’ involving Pruitt MORE (R-Okla.), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSessions responds to Nazi comparisons: 'They were keeping the Jews from leaving' Laura Ingraham: Migrant child detention centers 'essentially summer camps' Senate chaplain offers prayer 'as children are being separated from their parents' MORE (R-Ala.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerThe ‘bang for the buck’ theory fueling Trump’s infrastructure plan Kamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response MORE (D-Calif.).


Lawmakers not on the Banking panel who back Bernanke include Sens. Reid, Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderIBM-led coalition pushes senators for action on better tech skills training Dems seek to leverage ObamaCare fight for midterms GOP senator: DOJ's ObamaCare argument 'as far-fetched as any I've ever heard' MORE (R-Tenn.), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrFormer Senate intel aide indicted for perjury makes first court appearance The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Washington's week of 'we'll see' Former Senate Intel aide indicted in DOJ leak case MORE (R-N.C.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril Romney backs Laura Bush on border: 'We need a more compassionate answer' Amnesty International rips family separation policy: 'This is nothing short of torture' MORE (R-Maine), Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuLandrieu dynasty faces a pause in Louisiana Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Project Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns MORE (D-La.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperLawmakers prep for coming wave of self-driving cars Overnight Energy: Pruitt used security detail to run errands | Dems want probe into Pruitt's Chick-fil-A dealings | Yellowstone superintendent says he was forced out Dems seek watchdog probe into Pruitt’s Chick-fil-A dealings MORE (D-Del.) and Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusClients’ Cohen ties become PR liability Green Party puts Dem seat at risk in Montana Business groups worried about Trump's China tariffs plan MORE (D-Mont.).

A few lawmakers, including Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTrump surprises with consumer agency pick On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump nominates budget official Kraninger for consumer chief | Senate votes to block Trump ZTE deal | Stocks fall on trade tensions | House panel moves to markup budget Dems must stop picking foxes to guard the financial hen house MORE (D-Ohio), may vote differently on Bernanke's nomination when it hits the floor. Brown voted for Bernanke in committee.

Wall Street is very anxious about Bernanke's nomination. In a memo issued Friday afternoon titled, "Is it time to hit the panic button?", Mike Feroli of J.P. Morgan Research wrote, "A 'no' vote on Bernanke would rightly be read as a politicization of monetary policy, which has been without fail associated with poor economic outcomes: uncertaintly would ramp up, inflation risk premium would increase, the cost of capital would rise accordingly, and the real economy and labor markets would suffer. In short, it would be an economic policy mistake of colossal proportions."

Matthew Coleman and Anthony C. Lange contributed this article, which was updated at 6:25 p.m.