By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON Dec 17 U.S. Senate Republican leader
Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday he will oppose President Barack
Obama's appointment of Janet Yellen as the next head of the
Federal Reserve, citing concerns about her willingness to defend
Yellen, who nonetheless is expected to win Senate
confirmation this week, has stirred McConnell's concerns "about
her commitment to the most important job of the central bank -
maintaining the purchasing power of the dollar. After years of
federal stimulus, we need a Fed chairman who is unquestionably
committed to a strong dollar," McConnell said in a statement.
McConnell also noted that he supports legislation being
proposed by fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul that would
establish audits of Fed monetary policy and deliberations.
McConnell is running for re-election and faces a 2014 challenge
from a Tea Party-backed candidate, as well as a Democratic
The Fed, under Chairman Ben Bernanke, has been buying $85
billion in bonds a month since September 2013 in a third round
of so-called quantiative easing aimed at pushing down long-term
borrowing rates and boosting investment and hiring.
Policymakers on Tuesday began a two-day meeting at which
they will debate the future of that policy, although most
economists expect them to stand pat until next year.
Critics of the bond-buying program worry the Fed's easy
money policies can drive investment to countries with higher
interest rates, weakening the dollar. Fed officials typically
argue that the bond-buying program is aimed at boosting the U.S.
economy, and Bernanke has said his policies are consistent with
a strong dollar.
Yellen, who as Fed Vice Chair has been supportive of the
policies, is slated to take the reins when Bernanke's term ends
on January 31.
McConnell supported Obama's reappointment of Bernanke in
Obama's Democrats control 55 of the Senate's 100 seats. A
recent Senate rule change means that the 67-year-old former
economics professor needs to only win backing from a simple
majority to be confirmed.