The Senate is "unlikely" to hold a confirmation vote this week on a second term for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at the helm of the central bank, a senior Democratic leadership aide said Thursday.

Leadership aides had said this week that it was possible lawmakers would seek to vote on Bernanke's confirmation Friday, but an aide said that now seemed doubtful.

The Fed chief's four year-term ends Jan. 31. If the Senate fails to confirm him before then, Bernanke could remain on the Fed's monetary policymaking committee as a governor. The law is unclear whether he could continue as chairman or whether Vice Chairman Donald Kohn would temporarily replace him.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said this week that he believes Kohn would replace Bernanke if a vote is not held by Jan. 31.

Bernanke is widely expected to be confirmed once a vote is held, but a handful of lawmakers is preventing the Senate from moving directly to a vote. One of these, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who generally votes with the Democratic majority, is pressing for President Barack Obama to withdraw Bernanke's nomination and select another candidate to lead the Fed.

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