Early fireworks in Bernanke confirmation drama

Bernie Sanders puts official hold on Senate floor vote on Ben Bernanke's 2nd term as Federal Reserve chairman.

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By Hibah Yousuf, CNNMoney.com staff reporter

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- On the eve of what's expected to be a tough confirmation hearing Thursday, one senator has thrown up a political roadblock intended to stymie Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's second term.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said late Wednesday that he will put a hold on Bernanke's nomination. A hold is an informal practice in which a senator informs the majority leader that he does not want a measure or nomination to reach the floor for a vote.

"The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interest of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few," said Sanders, one of Bernanke's sharpest critics, in a statement. "What American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy."

Sanders said Bernanke, who took the helm of the Fed in 2006, could have averted the financial crisis in several ways, but failed at "core responsibility of the Federal Reserve" and thus "it's time for him to go."

Among the litany of reasons he cited for his move, the statement from Sanders' office noted that unemployment had more than doubled under Bernanke's watch and more than 120 banks have failed since he became chairman.

Bernanke's first term expires next month.

Majority leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., would not need to recognize Sanders' hold, but Sanders could filibuster the motion to nominate the Fed chairman for another 4-year term.

A spokesman for Reid would not comment on the hold by Sanders.

The Senate Banking Committee is set to hold a hearing on Bernanke's nomination on Thursday morning. To top of page

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