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Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon played a significant role in deep-sixing the potential nomination of former White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers to be the chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Summers on Sunday announced he was pulling his name from consideration for the Fed post following mounting opposition from the left flank of the Democratic Party.
Merkley, a member of the Senate banking committee, was one of the early opponents of naming Summers to the powerful post overseeing the nation's monetary system, as Obama had reportedly wanted to do. And he helped precipitate Summers' withdrawal by informing the White House that five Democrats on the banking committee were prepared to vote against him, according to a Senate Democratic source.
"Senator Merkley's well-known opposition to Larry Summers likely made a big difference," said Adam Greene of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, one of the groups lobbying against the Summers appointment.
In July, Merkley was one of about 20 Democratic senators who joined Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in signing a letter to Obama urging him to appoint Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen to the chairmanship.
The letter praised Yellen's "prescience" in warning before the 2008 financial meltdown about the "pending threats that the housing bubble and shadow banking sector posed to our entire economy."
Summers wasn't mentioned in that letter. But Merkley has indicated he has thought Summers was too close to Wall Street and not concerned enough about the needs of the middle class.
“Larry Summers for Fed Chair? Disconcerting … many questions to answer," Merkley tweeted in July.
A spokesman for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., had said back in July that Wyden would be "equally comfortable" with either Summers or Yellen as Fed chair.