By Alister Bull
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen will likely secure sufficient votes to be confirmed as the next head of the central bank, according to one of her harshest critics in the Senate who sits on the banking panel that will vet her for the job.
David Vitter, the Louisiana Republican who voted against her nomination for the No. 2 post in 2010, met with Yellen on Wednesday afternoon.
He told Reuters Insider television that he had not decided if he would oppose her nomination this time around, but predicted she will win sufficient support to garner the 60 votes needed in the Senate to overcome procedural obstacles to a final confirmation vote.
"I think this nomination's clearly going to require 60 votes. That is really all we are talking about. So the bar is going to be 60 votes. That is clear. And she will probably surpass that bar. I am still deciding on my vote," he said.
President Barack Obama, whose Democrats control 55 of the 100 seats in the Senate, nominated Yellen last month to replace current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke when his term expires at the end of January.
Several Republican senators have said they will place holds on her nomination in an effort to gain leverage on other issues.
South Carolina's Lindsey Graham wants more information about a 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Kentucky's Rand Paul wants a vote on legislation he has proposed that would expose Fed monetary policy decisions to congressional audit. Vitter is a co-sponsor of Paul's bill.
The Senate Banking Committee is expect to hold a hearing on Yellen's nomination on November 14.
Although Vitter has not decided how he will vote, he remains worried by the Fed's ultra-easy monetary policy. The central bank has held interest rates near zero since late 2008 and has quadrupled the size of its balance sheet to $3.8 trillion with a series of bond-purchase programs.
"I'm concerned about what seems to be a continuing (of) free money policy forever. I think we're building up inflationary pressure in the future; I think there are real dangers there," he said, adding that he would also urge Yellen to make big banks raise more capital.
"I would like her to be very aggressive in terms of ending too big to fail," he said.
(Reporting by Alister Bull; editing by Jackie Frank)