The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Ben Bernanke to a second term as Federal Reserve chairman, handing President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaWhite House appears to inflate job creation stats on first 100 days site Rick Perry: Trump should ‘renegotiate’ Paris climate pact Earnest: Obama won't be Democratic Party's next leader MORE a hard-fought victory.
The 70-30 vote showed strong bipartisan criticism of Bernanke and the Federal Reserve, which played a key role in the financial crisis and ensuing taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street.
Bernanke received the fewest confirmation votes in history in support of a Fed chairman. Paul Volcker received the previous record of votes in opposition at 19 in the early 1980s.
Some Democrats said they were using their votes against Bernanke to send a strong message to the White House to switch economic policies and focus more on the middle class than large banks.
“I want to express with my vote that the leaders of President Obama’s economic team must pivot,” said Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDem senators ask Bannon for more info about Breitbart contact Senate Dems want Trump to release ethics waivers, visitor logs Senators offer bill to boost police training in cyber crime MORE (D-R.I). Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerAnother day, another dollar for retirement advice rip-offs Carly Fiorina 'certainly looking at' Virginia Senate run Top Obama adviser signs with Hollywood talent agency: report MORE (D-Calif.) lashed out at the Fed’s record on regulation and said it failed to ensure high levels of employment.
Many Republicans also strongly criticized Bernanke’s tenure at the Fed and the steps to bailout banks and other companies.
“If we don’t hold Chairman Bernanke accountable, what precedent are we setting?” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).
The Obama administration worked hard over the last week to shore up support for Bernanke, who was first appointed by President George W. Bush and whose current term is up Jan. 31.
Lawmakers, particularly Democrats, are growing more anxious about the midterm elections this year as the broader economy continues to remain in the doldrums of 10 percent unemployment.
While Wall Street is rallying and big banks return to high levels of profit, the unemployment rate continues to be high and the housing market remains weak.
The Senate earlier on Thursday held a cloture vote to cut off debate on Bernanke’s confirmation. That vote required 60 votes to pass because several senators, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGive Trump the silent treatment Macron: Gets a win in France, but now the challenge comes Conway: I have 'no idea' who is leading Democratic Party MORE (I-Vt.) and Jim Demint (R-S.C.), had placed holds on the confirmation.
The cloture vote passed 77-23, with a surprisingly larger number of votes in support than some observers had predicted.
Five Democrats and Sanders voted against Bernanke on the cloture vote, while 23 Republicans voted in favor of cutting off debate.
On the final vote, Sanders and 11 Democrats voted against Bernanke’s confirmation. They were: Mark BegichMark BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (Alaska), Maria CantwellMaria CantwellReport: GOP lawmakers selling access to top staffers Bipartisan group demands answers on United incident Cohn backs modern version of Glass-Steagall: report MORE (Wash.), Russ Feingold (Wisc.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Regulation: Lawmakers look to delay labor board ruling Senate Dems offer bill to restore internet privacy rules Dem senator on Gorsuch: 'The dark deed is done’ MORE (Ore.), Boxer, Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Al FrankenAl FrankenTwitter jumps on news of O'Reilly's ouster Senate Dems seek review of products linked to tax refunds House Democrat introduces bill to amend presidential removal procedures MORE (Minn.), Tom HarkinTom HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE (Iowa), Ted Kaufman (Del.), Arlen Specter (Pa.) and Whitehouse.
Meanwhile, 22 Republicans joined Democrats in favor of Bernanke on the final vote. They were: Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderGroups warn of rural health 'crisis' under ObamaCare repeal Trump’s Army pick faces tough confirmation fight Trump faces risky ObamaCare choice MORE (Tenn.), John BarrassoJohn BarrassoPoll: Sanders most popular senator in the US The animal advocate Trump climate move risks unraveling Paris commitments MORE (Wyo.), Bob Bennett (Utah), Kit Bond (Mo.), Richard BurrRichard BurrBurr: US in new Cold War with Russia Senator: No signs of GOP 'slow-walking' Russia investigation GOP senator hits back at criticism of Russia probe MORE (N.C.), Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissGOP hopefuls crowd Georgia special race Democrats go for broke in race for Tom Price's seat Spicer: Trump will 'help the team' if needed in Georgia special election MORE (Ga.), Tom CoburnTom CoburnFreedom Caucus saved Paul Ryan's job: GOP has promises to keep Don't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential MORE (Okla.), Thad CochranThad CochranPicking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Overnight Defense: FBI chief confirms Trump campaign, Russia probe | Senators push for Afghan visas | Problems persist at veterans' suicide hotline Senators ask to include visas for Afghans in spending bill MORE (Miss.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSchumer: Senate Russia probe moving too slowly Collins: I'm not working with Freedom Caucus chairman on healthcare Mexico: Recent deportations 'a violation' of US immigration rules MORE (Maine), Bob CorkerBob CorkerThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate Foreign Relations chair: Erdogan referendum win 'not something to applaud' Groups warn of rural health 'crisis' under ObamaCare repeal MORE (Tenn.), Mike EnziMike EnziTrump should work with Congress to block regulations on prepaid cards GOP wrestles with big question: What now? Top Dem: Trump's State Dept. cuts a 'Ponzi scheme' MORE (Wyo.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGraham: There are 'no good choices left' with North Korea Graham: North Korea shouldn't underestimate Trump Five key moments from Trump's first 100 days MORE (S.C.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGeorgia campaigns keep up pressure ahead of runoff vote Medicare’s coverage decisions need more input from physicians Five takeaways from the Georgia special election MORE (Ga.), Mike JohannsMike JohannsLobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops MORE (Neb.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellTrump nominates two new DOD officials McConnell signals Republican-only path on tax reform McConnell backs miners health fix in funding bill MORE (Ky.), Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiTrump’s Army pick faces tough confirmation fight Republican Sen. Collins considering run for Maine governor in 2018 Alaska senators push bill to allow Arctic drilling MORE (Alaska), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and George Voinovich (Ohio).
There were six Democrats who switched their positions on the votes. The six Democrats voted in favor of cloture, but opposed Bernanke on the final vote. They were Boxer, Dorgan, Franken, Harkin, Kaufman and Whitehouse.
This story was updated at 5:10 p.m.
Sen. George Lemieux (Fla.) was the one Republican who voted in favor of cloture, but against Bernanke in the final vote.