Janet Yellen, nominated by the White House to replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chair, passed a key hurdle today when the Senate Banking Committee voted in favour of her.
Three Republicans joined 11 committee Democrats in the 14-8 vote for Yellen, raising the likelihood that her nomination will surmount any procedural challenges when it comes before the full Senate, expected in the next two weeks.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, seen as a key monetary and fiscal policy watchdog in Congress, hailed Yellen as an "extraordinarily qualified woman" for the post and expressed surprise that eight on the committee had voted against her.
"Janet Yellen has impeccable credentials, and I'm very pleased she was voted out of committee with bipartisan backing," said Warren.
"I hope the Senate will act swiftly to confirm her so she can get to work leading the Fed at this important time."
If approved, Yellen, currently the Fed's vice chair, would become the first woman to lead the world's most powerful central bank.
At 67, Yellen has built a strong reputation as an academic economist, teaching at the University of California at Berkeley, and a veteran of the central bank.
Married to economics Nobel Prize winner George Akerlof, she has a long-term interest in the impact of joblessness on the economy, and has helped keep Fed policy focused on bringing down the unemployment rate.