WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Banking Committee Democrat Jon Tester would not support Lawrence Summers if he was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next head of the Federal Reserve in a sign of firming opposition towards the former White House adviser.
"Senator Tester plans to vote against him in committee," Andrea Helling, a spokeswoman for the Montana Democrat, said on Friday.
Tester's declaration takes the number of Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee who are known to be in the "no" column to three and means that if Obama chooses Summers for the top Fed job, he would need support from three Republican members to advance the nomination for consideration by the full Senate.
Summers is widely thought to be Obama's preferred choice to replace Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term ends in January, but the White House said on Friday that the president had not yet made a decision on the next head of the U.S. central bank.
Committee Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio has told Reuters he would vote against Summers, and congressional aides have said Oregon's Jeff Merkley would also oppose him.
Democrats have 12 seats on the panel, which needs to vet any nomination and decide to send it to the full Senate for final consideration.
Twenty Senate Democrats had already signed a letter urging Obama to nominate Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen, although Tester was not among them. Yellen would be the first ever woman to lead the U.S. central bank, if nominated and confirmed.
It is highly unusual for senators to announce which way they are leaning before the president has formally announced his pick. Normally, they wait until the vetting committee has a chance to examine the candidate and then weigh in afterward.
Republicans, who hold the other 10 seats on the committee, have not said much publicly about Summers, although the party's second-ranking member in the Senate, John Cornyn, has announced that he would not back him for the position, and a few other Republicans have also expressed opposition.
Some liberals are unhappy with Summers because of his backing for banking deregulation in the 1990s, which they blame for sowing the seeds of the devastating 2007-2009 financial crisis.
(Reporting by Alister Bull and Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Eric Beech and Krista Hughes)
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