Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Biden hits one-year mark in dire straits 'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act MORE (D-Nev.) said late on Friday that he supports Ben Bernanke for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman.
The statement came after stock markets closed and amid a day of uncertainty about whether Bernanke had the necessary votes for confirmation. Reid himself had issued a vague statement on Thursday about whether he would support Bernanke.
"While I will vote for his confirmation, my support is not unconditional," Reid said in a statement. "I know Chairman Bernanke is committed to transparency and accountability, and that is why I will hold him to the highest standards of both."
Most analysts believe Bernanke will win confirmation, but there are at least 13 definite votes in opposition. The stock markets took a plunge on Friday amid the uncertainty of Bernanke's confirmation. His term is up on Jan. 31.
"I made it clear that to merit confirmation, Chairman Bernanke must redouble his efforts to ensure families can access the credit they need to buy or keep their home, send their children to college or start a small business," Reid said. "He has assured me he will soon outline plans for making that happen, and I eagerly await them."
Sixteen lawmakers in the Banking Committee backed Bernanke's nomination and seven who voted no. Assuming those lawmakers do not change their positions, there are now 25 senators who back Bernanke and 13 who oppose him, according to a survey conducted on Friday by The Hill. Many offices declined to comment or indicated their boss was undecided.
Legislators who oppose Bernanke that do not sit on the Banking Committee include Sens. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — White House raises new alarm over Russia Biden sparks confusion, cleanup on Russia-Ukraine remarks Republicans say Mayorkas failed to deliver report on evacuated Afghans MORE (R-Okla.), Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE (R-Ala.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBass raises nearly million since launching LA mayor campaign Harry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate majority leader, dies Congress can prevent another Jan. 6 by updating a key elections law MORE (D-Calif.).
Lawmakers not on the Banking panel who back Bernanke include Sens. Reid, Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (R-Tenn.), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrPelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress Momentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks Public health expert: Biden administration needs to have agencies on the 'same page' about COVID MORE (R-N.C.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsManchin, Collins leading talks on overhauling election law, protecting election officials Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates Ossoff and Collins clash over her past support for voting rights legislation MORE (R-Maine), Mary LandrieuMary Loretta Landrieu11 former Democratic senators call for 'meaningful reform to Senate rules' 10 Democrats who could run in 2024 if Biden doesn't Cassidy wins reelection in Louisiana MORE (D-La.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Overnight Energy & Environment — Lummis holds up Biden EPA picks GOP senator blocks Biden EPA nominees over coal plant decision MORE (D-Del.) and Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusThe good, bad, and ugly of Tester's Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act Biden nominates Nicholas Burns as ambassador to China Cryptocurrency industry lobbies Washington for 'regulatory clarity' MORE (D-Mont.).
A few lawmakers, including Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats see good chance of Garland prosecuting Trump On the Money — Student borrowers stare down rising prices Biden selects Sarah Bloom Raskin, two others for Fed board MORE (D-Ohio), may vote differently on Bernanke's nomination when it hits the floor. Brown voted for Bernanke in committee.
Wall Street is very anxious about Bernanke's nomination. In a memo issued Friday afternoon titled, "Is it time to hit the panic button?", Mike Feroli of J.P. Morgan Research wrote, "A 'no' vote on Bernanke would rightly be read as a politicization of monetary policy, which has been without fail associated with poor economic outcomes: uncertaintly would ramp up, inflation risk premium would increase, the cost of capital would rise accordingly, and the real economy and labor markets would suffer. In short, it would be an economic policy mistake of colossal proportions."
Matthew Coleman and Anthony C. Lange contributed this article, which was updated at 6:25 p.m.