The U.S. Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the next chairwoman of the Federal Reserve on Monday, making her the first woman to lead the central bank in its 100-year history.

Fifty-six senators voted in favor of Ms. Yellen and twenty-six opposed, with many senators unable to attend the vote in the Capitol due to bad weather.

Ms. Yellen, who is currently the vice chairwoman, will take over from outgoing Chairman Ben Bernanke when he steps down after eight years on January 31. Ms. Yellen is due to be sworn in to office on February 1 and chair the Fed''s policy meeting in March.

President Barack Obama welcomed the confirmation, saying "The American people will have a fierce champion who understands that the ultimate goal of economic and financial policymaking is to improve the lives, jobs and standard of living of American workers and their families."

At her Senate confirmation hearing in November, Ms. Yellen defended the Fed’s USD85 billion-a-month quantitative easing program, arguing that it was important not to remove support too early given the fragile recovery.

“The ripple effects go through the economy and bring benefits to, I would say, all Americans,” she said.

In December, the Fed voted to reduce its asset purchase program to USD75 billion a month from USD85 billion a month, citing improvements in economic growth and the labor market.

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