Senate OKs Bernanke for a second term

Embattled Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke won confirmation for a second term Thursday, but only by the closest vote ever for the crucial post and after withering criticism from lawmakers for bailing out Wall Street while other Americans suffered in the recession.

The Senate confirmed Bernanke for a new four-year term by a 70-30 vote, a seemingly solid majority but 14 votes worse than the closest previous vote for a Fed chairman.

The Senate battle over Bernanke’s confirmation has been a test of central bank independence, a crucial element if the Fed is to carry out unpopular, but what some consider economically essential, policies. Its decisions on interest rates can have immense consequences in areas such as how businesses function, rates for home loans and prices for commodities, such as food and gas.

Associated Press