updated 6/17/2004 9:47:48 PM ET 2004-06-18T01:47:48

The Senate late Thursday approved President Bush's nomination of Alan Greenspan to serve a fifth term as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

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The approval came on a voice vote. It came hours after the Senate Banking Committee endorsed the nomination, with only Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., voting against.

Greenspan, 78, has guided the Fed since 1987 when he was chosen by President Reagan to succeed another legendary chairman, Paul Volcker. He was re-nominated to the Fed post once by Bush's father and twice by President Clinton.

Bush had let it be known a year ago that he planned to nominate Greenspan for a fifth term when his current term ended in June 2004.

Friends say Greenspan has told them that he plans to serve less than half of the new four-year term, choosing to retire on Jan. 31, 2006, when his separate 14-year term as a Fed board member is to end.

That decision would give the next president the chance to select Greenspan's successor early in the next presidential term.

Bunning predicted during Greenspan's confirmation hearing on Tuesday that he would probably be the only vote against the nomination in the full Senate, but he told Greenspan, "We both know what it's like to take unpopular stands."

Bunning said he was opposing the nomination because he believed Greenspan did not move quickly enough to lower interest rates in 1992 and 2000 and he also objected to Greenspan's voicing opinions on subjects such as tax and budget issues that Bunning said were outside of the Fed's jurisdiction.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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