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 CorkerBob CorkerOvernight Defense: GOP chairman moves ahead with 0B defense bill | Lawmakers eye 355 ship navy | Senate panel seeks answers on shoot down of Syrian jet Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump tweetstorm on Russia probe | White House reportedly pushing to weaken sanctions bill | Podesta to testify before House Intel Overnight Finance: Big US banks pass Fed stress tests | Senate bill repeals most ObamaCare taxes | Senate expected to pass Russian sanctions bill for second time 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.

ADVERTISEMENT
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 VitterOvernight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending Former La. official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator Former senator who crafted chemicals law to lobby for chemicals industry MORE (R-La.) has already said he would oppose her, and questions from Sen. Mike CrapoMike CrapoOvernight Regulation: Senate Banking panel huddles with regulators on bank relief | FCC proposes 2M fine on robocaller | Yellowstone grizzly loses endangered protection Overnight Finance: Big US banks pass Fed stress tests | Senate bill repeals most ObamaCare taxes | Senate expected to pass Russian sanctions bill for second time All big US banks pass Dodd-Frank stress tests 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 CollinsRocky rollout for Senate healthcare bill Overnight Healthcare: Latest on Senate healthcare bill | Four conservatives say they'll oppose | Obama slams bill | Health groups offer scathing criticism The Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Maine), 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 (R-Neb.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamThe Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill Judiciary Committee to continue Russia probe after Mueller meeting Why does Paul Ryan want to punish American consumers? 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.