Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke likely has enough votes to overcome a filibuster and gain approval for a second term, according to several leading senators and an analysis by CNBC of how lawmakers will likely vote.
The analysis also showed Bernanke would win confirmation with bipartisan support, although he will likely register more opposition than any Fed chairman in recent history.
Calls by CNBC to all 100 senators over the past two days found 36 in favor and 18 opposed, with the remaining undeclared. But if the vote of the undeclared 46 senators is the same by party as those who have declared, Bernanke would garner 67 votes in favor, more than the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. He needs 51 to win approval. The CNBC tally shows 71 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of Republicans currently supporting Bernanke.
Bernanke's chances got a boost late Friday when majority leader Harry Reid declared his support. Late Saturday, Democratic Senator John Kerry joined Reid, saying, "Chairman Bernanke provided leadership that was urgent, nimble, strong and vital in staving off greater disaster."
President Barack Obama made calls from the White House to members of the Senate leadership and others on Saturday and was assured Bernanke would win confirmation, a senior White House official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private phone calls.
Republican Sen. Judd Gregg and Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd in a joint statement insisted that the Fed Chairman has the votes. "Based on our discussions with our colleagues, we are very confident that Chairman Bernanke will win confirmation by the Senate for a second term."
Two other Democrats who had remained quiet about their intentions, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, and the No. 2 Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said Saturday that they will support him. Bernanke should not be the scapegoat for systemic failings, Kerry said.
CNBC found 22 Democratic senators in favor, compared with nine opposed. Republican support became more apparent on Saturday, with 13 Republicans voicing support and eight opposing him.
Bernanke's term expires Jan. 31.
Bernanke is widely credited with helping to prevent the Great Recession from turning into a second Great Depression. But his support of Wall Street bailouts has angered Americans who are struggling with double-digit unemployment and soaring home foreclosures.
Already four Senate Democrats have said they would vote against the Fed chairman.