Page last updated at 17:03 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Bernanke's nomination approved by Senate banking panel

US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke
Ben Bernanke's tenure expires at the end of January

Ben Bernanke's nomination to a second term as head of the US Federal Reserve has been approved by a Senate panel.

Members of the Senate Banking Committee voted 16 to seven to back Mr Bernanke as head of the central bank.

This means that the nomination will now proceed to the Senate floor for a full vote on his reconfirmation. Mr Bernanke is likely to be approved.

Despite that, the Fed chairman has faced hostility from senators over his handling of the financial crisis.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, for example, has said that he will attempt to block the nomination when it comes to a vote.

Under Mr Bernanke's tenure, the Fed has cut interest rates close to zero, as well as spending $3 trillion (£1.8tn) to buoy the financial markets.

It also handled the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the largest bankruptcy in US history and supervised the bail-out of the insurer AIG, which received a total of $182.5bn of government funding.

In partnership with the US Treasury, the Fed organised the $700bn bank bail-out plan in October 2008.

Mr Bernanke has defended the central bank's response to the global crisis.

He was named as head of the Fed by President Barack Obama's predecessor, George W Bush, in 2005.

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