The Senate Tuesday confirmed Ben S. Bernanke as the chairman and a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Fed said late Tuesday.

A private swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Federal Reserve Board.

The confirmation took place on Alan Greenspan’s last day as head of the Fed after helming the bank for 18-and-a-half years.

Bernanke, chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers since June, joins the Fed at a time when the office has been raising rates consistently and the housing market appears to be normalizing or perhaps heading for a slowdown.

The Senate approved the former Fed governor by voice vote after a short debate, Reuters reported. He won high praise from both Republicans and Democrats, according to Reuters.

Bernanke will be sworn in on Wednesday for a renewable four-year term at the helm of the U.S. central bank, along with a 14-year term on the Fed’s board.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, called him a “solid, thoughtful” person who is well qualified for the job, Reuters said.

“He is erudite, he is smart,” Schumer told Reuters. “And he is one of those rare people who has made monetary policy his life’s work.”

Many supporters, as well as financial markets, have said they find comfort in Bernanke’s promises to adhere to Greenspan’s approach to monetary policy.

One Republican, a longtime critic of the Greenspan Fed, opposed the nomination, Reuters said. U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky said Bernanke failed to show enough independence on the Fed board and complained the central bank suffered from “group think,” media reports said.

The 52-year-old Bernanke served at the Fed for nearly three years before he moved to the White House.


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