By a vote of 59-34 the Senate on Friday moved the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve past a key procedural hurdle.
The vote invoked "cloture" — effectively preventing Republicans from filibustering President Obama's nominee.
Next up for Yellen's nomination: A confirmation vote, set for Jan. 6. With the Democratic caucus controlling 55 of the Senate's 100 seats, she's expected to get a majority and then become the first woman to head the central bank.
Yellen, 67, is currently the Fed's vice chairman. As we've written previously, post-confirmation hearing analyses of her recent testimony before the Senate Banking Committee concluded that Fed policy likely wouldn't change much, if at all, should she replace outgoing chairman Ben Bernanke. The central bank is expected to begin gradually reducing the amount of stimulus it's giving the economy, probably as soon as next month.
The Fed's thinking: The economy, which sank into recession in late 2007 and spent the better part of the next 5 years or so either in decline or only growing weakly, has regained some of its strength. That impression was reinforced Friday when the Bureau of Economic Analysis said gross domestic product expanded at a healthy 4.1 percent annual rate in the third quarter.
Bernanke's term expires on Jan. 31.