A picture of Senator Richard J. Durbin
Richard D.
Democrat IL

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  • Executive Session

    by Senator Richard J. Durbin

    Posted on 2014-01-06

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    DURBIN. Madam President, extreme weather throughout the Midwest created travel delays that prevented me from being in Washington today for the vote to confirm Janet Yellen as Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve. She is an excellent candidate, given her long history of service at the Fed and her vast amount of expertise, and had I been here, I would have cast an aye vote in support of her nomination, just as I did on the vote to invoke cloture on her nomination.

    Dr. Yellen most currently serves as vice chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Over the span of the last nearly four decades, she has served as a member of the Board of Governors, the chair of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, and as the president and CEO of the 12th District Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco. She's also spent a good part of her career in the academic world, currently as a professor at Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

    The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression sent our economy into a hole that it is still climbing out of today. The good news is that it is emerging from that dark place, thanks in part to the role of the Federal Reserve, led by current Chairman Ben Bernanke. Since the depths of the crisis, the Fed has taken on a more creative role in restoring our economy and stabilizing our financial system, using unconventional tools and setting specific goals for growth.

    [[Page S15]] What makes Dr. Yellen a particularly strong nominee is the attention she has paid to connecting the labor market to monetary policy. Much of her career has been devoted to these subjects. In October 2009, our unemployment rate reached 10 percent. Today, with the help of the Fed's actions, it stands at 7 percent. In my home State of Illinois, unemployment stood at 10.7 percent in 2009, and is down to 8.7 percent today. Though this is far from good enough, it shows real progress.

    Our next Fed chair should be able to take on the challenges our economy still faces--lowering the unemployment rate even further and meeting inflationary goals. The focus that Dr. Yellen brings to the labor market gives me confidence that she can help our Nation reach new highs when it comes to creating jobs and getting Americans back to work.

    The Wall Street Journal recently prepared an interesting analysis examining more than 700 predictions made by 14 Fed policymakers. That analysis found Dr. Yellen to be the most accurate of the 14. That did not surprise me. Dr. Yellen could not be more deserving of this nomination given her experience and precise economic judgment. She has the know-how to make the decisions that a Fed chair needs to make about how to move our economy further forward successfully and transparently.

    I support Dr. Yellen's nomination and look forward to working with her as she becomes our Nation's first Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.

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