The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed Janet Yellen as the next chairperson of the Federal Reserve, thus giving the green light to the first woman in history to head the U.S. central bank.
Yellen, 67 years old and the Fed's current vice-chairperson, received the support of 56 senators with 26 - all Republicans - voting against her appointment. She will replace Ben Bernanke at the helm of the Fed on Jan. 31, when the latter's term expires.
An economist with two decades of service at the Federal Reserve, Yellen said in her confirmation hearing that one of her priorities during her four-year term would be to reduce unemployment, which currently stands at 7 percent, according to the latest available figures from November.
With a lower public profile than Bernanke, Yellen was supported by the more liberal sectors of the Democratic Party, who value her backing of the aggressive economic stimulus policy launched by her predecessor to revitalize the economy after the acute financial crisis of 2008.
This position, however, is one that Republican senators such as Ted Cruz (Texas), Marco Rubio (Florida) and Charles Grassley (Iowa) criticize, and they were among those who voted against Yellen's confirmation on Monday.
In general, the senators opposing her nomination argued that the Fed's expansive policies are contributing to a loss of buying power due to the weakening of the dollar and to an overheating of the economy.
However, Bernanke announced in mid-December the beginning of a moderate reduction of the Fed's bond-buying program and the pursuit of additional similar measures designed to improve the economic climate.
Yellen faces the difficult task of determining the ideal rhythm whereby the Fed can progressively reduce its stimulus program in this new phase, a program which - despite the criticism it has received - has been essential in avoiding an even deeper crisis for the world's largest economy.
She is also the first person to be nominated by a Democratic president to head the Fed since Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Volcker in 1979.
Yellen's confirmation vote had been delayed several times since she was nominated in October by President Barack Obama and garnered the support of the Senate Banking Committee in November. EFE