Conservative group targets Yellen vote

Janet Yellen’s nomination to take over the Federal Reserve ran into conservative opposition on Monday as the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation urged senators to vote against her.

Heritage Action announced Monday that it would include a vote on Yellen’s nomination, which is expected to take place in December, on its congressional scorecard. A vote in favor of Yellen will be rated negatively.

The group argues Yellen has failed to present a plan to wind down the Fed’s massively expanded portfolio and said that is reason for the Senate to block her nomination.

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The Fed has faced heavy GOP scrutiny as Chairman Ben Bernanke, with Yellen’s backing, has led the central bank to take unprecedented steps to boost the economy. Interest rates have been kept near zero for years, and the Fed is buying billions of dollars a month in bonds in an effort to further lower rates and boost lending.

Conservatives have warned this accommodative policy is ineffective and carries significant dangers when it comes time to remove that stimulus. Fed officials are preparing to begin slowing the support in the coming months.

In addition to blasting Fed policy, Heritage Action also criticized the Fed’s expanded role in the wake of the financial crisis and enactment of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The regulator offered a massive lifeline to financial institutions during the financial meltdown via a host of emergency loans, and now plays a significant role with other regulators in implementing the landmark financial overhaul.

Despite the growing conservative opposition, Yellen had been expected to receive enough votes for confirmation — and that was before Senate Democrats changed the rules last week to ensure majority votes on nominees. Now Yellen can be confirmed with just Democratic votes.

If confirmed, Yellen would become the first ever female head of the Fed.

During her confirmation hearing, Yellen, the Fed's current vice chair, stuck by its policies while acknowledging they must be wound down at some point.

She received the backing of three GOP senators on the Senate Banking Committee when that panel approved her earlier this month. Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) all backed her nomination, while the remaining seven Republicans opposed her.

Yellen does not enjoy unanimous support among Democrats, even though several openly advocated for her nomination this summer. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), citing his concerns with Fed policies, voted against Yellen in committee.

A handful of Republican senators have announced they plan to vote against Yellen on the Senate floor, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has called for a vote on his bill fully auditing the Fed’s activities before considering her nomination, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has joined that cause.