Janet Yellen approved by Senate Banking Committee, 14 to 8

Janet Yellen
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday approved Janet Yellen's nomination to become the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve, sending it to the full Senate for a final vote.

If confirmed, as is widely expected, the current number two at the U.S. central bank will replace its chairman,Ben Bernanke, when his term expires on Jan. 31, making her the most powerful woman in world finance.

The panel's vote was 14 in favor and 8 against.

Democrats control 55 of the 100 votes in the chamber, which means she needs to only secure the backing from five Republicans to overcome Senate procedural hurdles, and looks well on the way to reaching that threshold.

Harris: Yellen would like to end QE

Yellen, viewed as a monetary policy dove who puts more weight on driving down high unemployment than the risk this will ignite future inflation, will preside over a central bank that has taken dramatic steps to spur U.S. growth and hiring.

(Read more: Yellen: In no rush to raise rates, start taper)

It has held interest rates near zero since late 2008 and quadrupled the size of its balance sheet to $3.9 trillion through three massive asset purchase campaigns aimed at lowering the cost of long-term borrowing.

This has made the Fed a target for Republican lawmakers worried that these ultra-easy policies have enabled big spending by the Obama administration.

(Read more: Bullard: December taper 'on the table')

—By Reuters