WASHINGTON — Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) said Wednesday he would seek to use a procedural tactic to attempt to delay a Senate vote on the renomination of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke for a second four-year term.
While Sanders can't hold up a Senate vote on Bernanke's nomination indefinitely, he can force Senate Democratic leadership to schedule a series of votes and allow lengthy debate before a final vote can occur.
Sanders has been an avowed critic of Bernanke's handling of the economic crisis over the last two years. He has demanded greater public disclosure of the Fed's lending activities to troubled financial firms during that period, largely without success.
"The American people want a new direction on Wall Street and at the Fed," Sanders said in a statement. "They do not want as chairman someone who has been part of the problem and who has been responsible for many of the enormous difficulties that we are now experiencing. It's time for a change at the Fed."
The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing for Bernanke Thursday morning, where he is expected to face tough questioning from lawmakers over the financial meltdown. A spokeswoman for the panel said Wednesday that Sanders' move doesn't change plans for the hearing to go ahead.
Bernanke's first term expires on Jan. 31, 2010, meaning the Senate has some breathing room for scheduling a confirmation vote. He was nominated for a second term by President Barack Obama in August.