Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) announced Tuesday he would not support Chairman Ben Bernanke's nomination for a second term at the helm of the Federal Reserve.

During an interview with Radio Iowa, he stressed he was opposed to the chairman's return primarily because he was “tired of being held hostage by Wall Street.”


“I just think Mr. Bernanke is going to continue the policy of the Fed of taking care of the big financial institutions and to heck with Main Street,” Harkin said.

Harkin's stance now puts him squarely in the camp of at least 18 lawmakers, some Democrats, who do not wish to see Bernanke's return to the helm of the Fed.

By contrast, informal whip counts show about 43 senators who have signaled they will support the chairman's confirmation vote, perhaps suggesting Bernanke's bid for a second term is safer than once thought.

However, favorable odds for a successful confirmation have not stopped many Democratic leaders from raising the stakes ahead of this week's vote. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) even went as far as to stress on Monday that Bernanke's ouster could have a serious impact on the nation's financial markets.

But it was precisely that logic that drove Harkin to decide against the chairman, he said Tuesday.

“How long will our economic policy be held hostage to Wall Street who threaten us that there’ll be total collapse if we don’t do everything they want?  Wall Street wants Bernanke," Harkin added. "They’re sending all these signals there’ll be this total collapse if he’s not approved. You know, I’m tired of being held hostage by Wall Street.”