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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A "strong majority" of Federal Reserve policymakers think its program of massive bond purchases has helped spur U.S. growth and hiring, but are aware of potential risks, Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen said in a letter to a U.S. lawmaker. Yellen was responding to a question for the record from Republican Louisiana Senator David Vitter. This followed her hearing last week before the Senate Banking Committee to replace Ben Bernanke as Fed chief when his term expires on January 31. "While a strong majority of the FOMC judges that asset purchases have been effective in fostering its economic objectives, the committee is aware of the potential costs and risks associated with asset purchases," she said in the letter, which was released by Vitter's office on Tuesday. The FOMC refers to the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee. (Reporting By Alister Bull; Editing by Sandra Maler)