Lawrence Summers
U.S. economist and Harvard University professor Lawrence Summers speaks during a luncheon at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong last Jan. 14. Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama has accepted Lawrence Summers’ surprise decision to withdraw from consideration as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, the Associated Press reported Sunday.

In a statement posted on the White House online site Sunday, Obama expressed gratitude to Summers for his service on behalf of the country while a key member of his economic team during his administration’s early days.

Here is the full text of that statement: “Earlier today, I spoke with Larry Summers and accepted his decision to withdraw his name from consideration for Chairman of the Federal Reserve. 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. 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.”

Summers had been considered a leading candidate to replace current Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

The controversial former U.S. secretary of the treasury explained to the president the reason why he was withdrawing his name from consideration as the next Fed chairman in a letter subsequently published by the Wall Street Journal. The reason centered on the confirmation process in the Senate, where three members of the majority party -- Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Jon Tester, D-Mont. -- indicated in recent days they were unlikely to support a Summers nomination, as noted by the New York Times.

“This is a complex moment in our national life,” Summers wrote. “I have reluctantly concluded than any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interests of the Federal Reserve, the Administration, or ultimately, the interests of the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.”