Politics

Looking Better for Bernanke

Taking the temperature of members as they return from a weekend at home, it seems Bernanke's nomination is looking better. Not only are more Democrats moving toward supporting the chairman, but among those who are undecided, a number said they would not support a filibuster of the nomination.

Some Democrats, like Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, who were undecided are now "leaning for" the Fed Chairman, who has been renominated to a 2nd term.

BUT --- interestingly -- as Mikulski was talking to "White House folks" (no details), she told them they "needed to shake up their economic team."  She would not say who, but this is a critical vote of no-confidence from a loud, respected voice in Congress. 

Mikulski said she wants to see a "more aggressive and effective jobs package" and more done foreclosure mitigation and prevention.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, also a senior member of the Caucus, said she was "leaning toward yes", but that she was not yet ready to announce her position. She was still "doing some work on this."

Some Democrats are clearly ready to support shutting down a filibuster, led primarily by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and Sen. Jim Bunning, R-KY, though there are others.  These same Democrats could then turn and vote no on final passage.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, normally an Administration ally, said he might do just that. "I don't usually support filibusters of nominations. I just don't do it."  Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, said he's also likely to support cloture, as well, no matter what he decides on the nomination.

Republicans, meanwhile, don't appear to be changing positions. And one note of clarification.  Some reports, including our own at Fox, have indicated that Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH, is selling his colleagues on the nomination. NOT TRUE, says Gregg. He merely put out a joint statement of strong support over the weekend with Banking Cmte Chairman Chris Dodd, D-CT, and took the temperature of his colleagues weeks ago, but no more.

Why? "You don't need to sell people on this. They pretty much know where they are on the nomination," Gregg said dryly.

There are still plenty of undecided Dems, though, and pretty significant ones -- White House allies.  Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-MO, Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, Patrick Leahy, D-VT (who said Sanders talked to him about this today for awhile), Sherrod Brown, D-OH, Jim Webb, D-VA, and Ted Kaufman, D-DE.

And then there are those who are up for re-election in 2010. Though Majority Leader Reid put out a tepid statement of support, Sen Blanche Lincoln, D-AR, hasn't said how she will vote, and neither has Sen Arlen Specter, D-PA.  Sens Barbara Boxer, D-CA, and Russ Feingold, D-WI, though, announced early on that they were a "no" on the nomination.