In surprise move, Corker backs Yellen for Fed

Janet Yellen’s bid to become the first female head of the Federal Reserve got a big boost Wednesday as Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerFormer Dem Tenn. gov to launch Senate bid: report McConnell 'almost certain' GOP will pass tax reform Former New Mexico gov: Trump's foreign policy is getting 'criticized by everybody' MORE (R-Tenn.) announced he would back her nomination.

It's a noted turnaround from the Senate Banking Committee member, who strongly suggested a little over a month ago that he would oppose her. Corker’s support also strongly indicates that Yellen would be confirmed, as several other Republicans have indicated a willingness to vote for her.

In a statement released Wednesday, Corker said that he would have preferred a nominee with a “more modest view” on the limits of monetary policy but appreciated Yellen’s commitment to Fed transparency and her acknowledgment that the bank’s current monetary policy is unsustainable. He also said she was qualified to handle the job.

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A little over a month earlier, when Yellen was first nominated to replace Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke by President Obama, Corker struck a different tone about the pick.

In a statement then, Corker noted that he opposed Yellen in 2010 when she was nominated to serve as the Fed’s vice chair, citing her “dovish views” on monetary policy. He strongly suggested he would oppose the pick again.

“We will closely examine her record since that time, but I am not aware of anything that demonstrates her views have changed,” he said.

Several Republicans have been skeptical of Yellen, given her role in supporting the Fed’s extremely accommodative policy. The Fed is currently buying $85 billion of bonds a month in an effort to stimulate the economy, even as conservatives fret the central bank's strategy is distorting markets and exposing the U.S. to dangerous inflation.

At her confirmation hearing, Yellen did not shy away from backing that policy, saying it was needed to get the economy back to normal. But Corker said that his private conversations with Yellen revealed that she understands that policy is unsustainable and should end as soon as it is appropriate.

“She understands that monetary policy is a blunt object, that distortions are occurring, and that the affluent disproportionately benefit from easy money policies,” he said. “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.”

The Senate Banking Committee is set to vote Thursday on Yellen’s nomination. She will not garner universal support — Sen. David VitterDavid VitterThe Senate 'ethics' committee is a black hole where allegations die Questions loom over Franken ethics probe You're fired! Why it's time to ditch the Fed's community banker seat MORE (R-La.) has already said he would oppose her, and questions from Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOvernight Regulation: Feds push to clarify regs on bump stocks | Interior wants Trump to shrink two more monuments | Navajo Nation sues over monument rollback | FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Senate panel approves bill easing Dodd-Frank rules Overnight Finance: GOP delays work on funding bill amid conservative demands | Senate panel approves Fed nominee Powell | Dodd-Frank rollback advances | WH disputes report Mueller subpoenaed Trump bank records Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the panel, indicated he would oppose the pick as well.

However, several Senate Republicans, including Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (R-Maine), Mike JohannsMike JohannsFarmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington MORE (R-Neb.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration We are running out of time to protect Dreamers US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (R-S.C.), have indicated they are likely to back Yellen. Corker’s support suggests that several Republicans, including those less conservative than him, could provide the votes to get Yellen confirmed.