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Senate panel to hold Yellen Fed hearing on November 14

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) looks on after announcing his nomination of Janet Yellen (R) to head the Federal Reserve at the White House in Washington October 9, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Banking Committee said on Thursday that it will hold a hearing on November 14 on the nomination of Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen to take the helm of the central bank when Ben Bernanke steps down at the end of January.

The hearing will be at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT).

President Barack Obama, whose Democrats hold 12 of the 22 positions on the banking panel, nominated Yellen last month.

If confirmed by the full Senate, she would become the first woman to ever lead the U.S. central bank.

Yellen is expected to face criticism from Republicans concerned by the Fed's ultra-easy monetary policy, but no serious challenge to gaining Senate approval, where Democrats control 55 of its 100 seats.

The Fed has held interest rates near zero since late 2008 and quadrupled the size of its balance sheet to $3.4 trillion through three massive rounds of bond purchases, also called quantitative easing, to spur tepid U.S. growth and hiring.

Several Republicans say they will place holds on her nomination to gain leverage on other issues, meaning she will have to get at least 60 votes to overcome the chamber's procedural hurdles. But even critics believe she will gather sufficient bipartisan support.

Democratic leaders have not indicated when they would schedule time on the Senate floor to debate her confirmation before a final vote.

Bernanke's terms expires on January 31.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Sandra Maler)