Chris Dodd has announced that Ben Bernanke will face a vote on his nomination in the Senate Banking Committee on December 17, a week from Thursday. Clearly, the hold process is Harry Reid’s problem, not Dodd’s.
This gives opponents of Bernanke a little over a week to mobilize and block the Federal Reserve chair from a second term, although Bernanke is expected to clear the committee. David Sirota had a rundown earlier today on what votes could be up for grabs in the committee. We know that Jim Bunning, Jim DeMint and David Vitter are “no” votes on the Republican side; Sirota believes that Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) could be moved to “no,” with Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jon Tester (D-MT) more remote possibilities. That’s, at best, seven no votes, so Republicans would have to supply an additional 5 out of the 7 remaining members in order to stop the nomination in committee. Judd Gregg and Mike Johanns are on the record as yes votes, so basically, every one of these Republicans would have to vote down Bernanke:
Richard Shelby (R-AL) ranking member
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Bob Bennett (R-UT)
Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
With Shelby skeptical and Hutchison and Bennett in primary fights, I could see all three of them voting no. I’m more skeptical on Crapo and Corker. Crapo is a lean yes, as is Corker. So some other combination of Democrats and a couple Republicans would have to shift to truly block this in committee.
On the floor of the Senate, because of the hold placed on the nomination by Bernie Sanders, Jim Bunning and others, 60 votes would be required just to get Bernanke to the floor. And that would be weeks down the road, allowing time for the opposition to build momentum.