Biden’s banking regulator at risk after tough Senate sanctions

Candidate Joe Biden leads a top US banker at risk of being rejected by the Senate after facing a wave of attacks from Republicans and skepticism from some Democrats. owner in a hearing on Thursday.

Saule Omarova chosen by the president to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the national watchdog Bank including Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

She was one of Biden’s most controversial economic and financial appointments because of her scathing criticisms of Wall Street as well as her upbringing in the Soviet Union, born in what is now known called Kazakhstan.

Biden has pushed for Omarova’s nomination despite growing opposition in recent weeks, but her confirmation appears to be in jeopardy as she testifies before a Senate banking committee on Wednesday Year.

The most intense and personal barbecue came from Republican senators, who accused her of being a communist.

“I don’t know whether to call him ‘professor’ or ‘comrade’,” quipped John Kennedy, a Republican senator from Louisiana. Pat Toomey, the top Republican on the panel, said she would “close the bank as we know it” and criticized Omarova’s college thesis on Karl Marx as proof that she It’s a “radical” option.

At one point, Omarova replied: “I am not a communist. I don’t follow that ideology. I can’t choose where I was born. . . My family suffered under the communist regime.”

Two moderate Democrats also expressed skepticism, a worrying sign for Omarova’s prospects for confirmation in the Senate, which is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

Both Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, and Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, expressed concern about Omarova’s previous criticisms of aspects of the 2018 bill. that they had advocated, which eased regulations for community banks.

“I apologize that you were faced with what I consider unfair attacks,” Tester said. “However, I have some significant concerns about the positions you have taken, including as a witness before this banking committee regarding the financial system, banking regulation and our OCC-related legislation.”

Warner added that he’s “quite disappointed” by her stance on community banking legislation.

Omarova said she had expressed concern that it could inadvertently undermine oversight of some of the country’s biggest lenders, but insisted she supported the action and would take it if confirmed. take.

“I testified in connection with S. 2155 to express my deep concern about the inadvertent easing of regulatory oversight over the largest financial institutions engaged in risky trading activities. high risk without necessarily following the traditional relationship banking model,” she said.

However, her responses did not appear to have completely quelled Democrats’ worries about her nomination. Tester said he was also worried by her proposal for a state-backed national investment agency that could decide which sectors of the economy to lend money to.

“Do you see how risky it is to make that statement?” He told her. “With that one potential decision maker. . . and you are a one person shop. Do you see how dangerous that can be? ”

Supporters of Omarova’s nomination have repeatedly criticized Republican attacks on her, with Sherrod Brown, the Democratic chair of the Senate banking committee, saying she has been a victim of ” vile tactics” throughout the process.

“That’s how Republicans turn a qualified woman into a Marxist,” Brown said. “We now know what happens when Trumpism meets McCarthyism.”

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