WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers on Sunday pulled out of the race to replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman, complicating President Barack Obama's closely scrutinized nomination process.
"Earlier today, I spoke with Larry Summers and accepted his decision to withdraw his name from consideration for Chairman of the Federal Reserve," Obama said in a statement released Sunday afternoon.
"Larry was a critical member of my team as we faced down the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and it was in no small part because of his expertise, wisdom, and leadership that we wrestled the economy back to growth and made the kind of progress we are seeing today," Obama said.
Summers' withdrawal came amid strong opposition from some Democratic and Republican senators. By law, the president names the Fed chief, but the nomination has to be confirmed by the Senate.
John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the upper chamber of U.S. Congress, has announced that he would oppose Summers to serve as Fed chairman.
Three Democrats of the 22-member Senate Banking Committee, which will vet any nomination, have also voiced their resistance, which means that a Summers nomination would face a hard time even advancing to the full floor.
"This is a complex moment of our national life. I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration, or ultimately, the interests of the nation's ongoing economic recovery," Summers said in a letter to Obama.
Obama said last month that he had a range of "highly-qualified" candidates under consideration to replace outgoing Bernanke, whose term ends on Jan. 31. Among them were Summers, Janet Yellen, currently the central bank's vice chairwoman, and former Fed vice chairman Donald Kohn.
Summers and Yellen were considered the two leading contenders. Summers is a member of Obama's original economic team, formed after Obama took the helm at the White House in 2009, and was instrumental in Obama's key economic policymaking.
"I look forward to continuing to support your efforts to strengthen our national economy by creating a broad-based prosperity and to reform our financial system so that no president ever again faces what you and your economic team faced upon taking office in 2009," said Summers, who is also president emeritus of Harvard University.
In his statement, Obama said, "I will always be grateful to Larry for his tireless work and service on behalf of his country, and I look forward to continuing to seek his guidance and counsel in the future."
Obama said that he would announce his pick for the Fed chair this fall. The Fed chief is arguably the most powerful economic figure in the country, and choosing the chair will be one of the most important decisions for Obama to make in his second term.