The Massachusetts election storm is sending a few cold waves over the bow of the White House economic team — not to mention Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
In a matter of hours Thursday, 13 Democrats broke ranks with the Treasury over extending its financial bailout authority, and after a face-to-face meeting. Majority Leader Harry Reid was conspicuously silent on whether he would back Bernanke for a second term next week.
Treasury’s program survived the floor vote; Bernanke is still favored to win confirmation. But there’s a greater chill in the air, and with Bernanke’s term running out Jan. 31, the administration has yet to secure the 60 votes needed to cut off debate on his nomination.
Democrats had hoped to pin that down this week, with the chance of holding the final vote Friday. But then Republicans rode an anti-Washington wave in Massachusetts on Tuesday, and at a Democratic caucus the next day, senators vented their anger over a White House team seen as too close to banks and Wall Street.