Reporting from Washington — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, whose reconfirmation has become surprisingly jeopardized, received a bipartisan boost Saturday from two key senators who reiterated their support for him and predicted he would win a second four-year term.
Senate banking committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who also serves on the committee, took the unusual step of issuing a weekend statement on Bernanke's behalf.
The move came a day after two Democratic senators, Barbara Boxer of California and Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, announced their opposition to Bernanke's renomination as head of the central bank, fueling speculation that his confirmation could be scuttled.
"In the last few days there have been a flurry of media reports on Chairman Bernanke's confirmation prospects, highlighting a very vocal opposition," Dodd and Gregg said in their statement. "Chairman Bernanke has done an excellent job responding to one of the most significant financial crises our country has ever encountered."
Declaring that Bernanke was "the right leader to guide the Federal Reserve in this recovering economy," Dodd and Gregg said they were confident that he would win confirmation from the Senate. They based their comments on discussions with their colleagues.
Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) also issued statements of support. And the White House said that President Obama had made calls to other lawmakers and Senate leaders Saturday and was assured that the nomination was on track for approval.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced his support for Bernanke's nomination Friday.
Dodd and Gregg were among those who voted in favor of Bernanke when the Senate banking committee approved his renomination by a 16-7 vote last month.
But the opposition to his nomination has been growing as the economy continues to struggle. Senators, particularly those facing reelection this year, also are concerned about voter anger about the Fed's role in failing to prevent the deep recession and then in helping to engineer the bailouts of large financial firms.
After Republican Scott Brown scored an upset Tuesday in Massachusetts' special Senate election, some Democrats began to voice opposition to giving Bernanke another four years as Fed chairman after his term expires Jan. 31. Bernanke needs 60 votes to overcome a procedural hurdle and secure a second term.
Most of the Senate's Republicans are expected to vote against Bernanke, meaning Democratic leaders can't afford to have too many members of their party oppose him.
Dodd and Gregg have an easier time backing Bernanke than other senators -- neither has to face voters this fall, because they have said they will not be running for reelection.