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Senate expected to vote on Fischer's Fed post next week

Stanley Fischer, the former chief of the Bank of Israel, testifies before the Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing on his nominatio
Stanley Fischer, the former chief of the Bank of Israel, testifies before the Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing on his nominatio

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate is expected to vote next week on Stanley Fischer's nomination for vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, securing his spot ahead of the May recess.

Locking in Fischer is a key step in replenishing the Fed's governing body, which has an unusual number of vacancies at a sensitive time, as the central bank faces several critical measures for U.S. monetary policy.

The Senate is likely to hold an initial vote on Tuesday to proceed to consider the nomination, setting up action for a final confirmation the following day, according to a Senate Democratic aide.

Fischer, 70, a well respected economist and Israel's former top central banker, is expected to win confirmation easily.

But it appeared unlikely that the Senate would act next week on two other pending Fed nominees: U.S. Treasury official Lael Brainard, 52, and current Fed Governor Jerome Powell, who has been nominated to serve another term.

With Fed Governor Jeremy Stein leaving later this month to return to academia, the normally seven-person board would fall to three members for the first time in its more than 100-year history if the Senate does not confirm Fischer before Stein's departure.

In addition to the board, the Fed also has 12 regional branches, whose presidents rotate through four voting positions each year, with the New York Fed holding a fifth vote.

While Fed governors have come and gone over the years, rarely has the balance within the central bank tipped so heavily to the voting Fed presidents, who tend to offer more divergent views than the board.

Even if Fischer, Brainard and Powell, 61, are confirmed, as analysts widely expect, two empty spots would remain on the board after Stein leaves.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Michael Flaherty; Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by James Dalgleish and Chizu Nomiyama)

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