Over the objections of bankers and critics in the Senate, President Joe Biden officially nominated Cornell University law professor Saule Omarova to serve as the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and sent the bid to the Senate.
The nomination comes five weeks after the Biden administration announced its intention to tap Omarova, a vocal critic of Wall Street and the influence of big banks, to lead the OCC. If confirmed, she will be the first woman and person of color to serve as comptroller.
Biden’s pick for the key regulator overseeing the nation’s financial system has triggered a wave of objections by banks of all sizes and lawmakers on both sides of the political fence. The OCC is a branch of the Treasury Department that polices some 1,125 banks with roughly $14 trillion in combined assets.
As OCC head, Omarova would be responsible for policing the activities of the U.S.’s largest banks and set rules affecting FinTech and cryptocurrency operations. Industry lobbyists pointed to Omarova as someone who is bad for the country’s financial system.
An outspoken critic of the banking system, she has called for restructuring the Federal Reserve and downsizing the influence and roles of banks, according to a 60-page paper she wrote last year. She has argued that shifting deposit accounts from banks to the Fed would make the financial system “less complex, more stable and more efficient in serving the long-term needs of the American people.”
The Senate is split 50-50 and it’s unlikely she will win the support of any Republicans. The Democrats, too, have reservations and it will just take one “no” to sink her chances of moving forward.
Several Democrats are particularly concerned over’s Omarova’s statement in a Vanderbilt Law Review article that called to “end banking as we know it.”
Senate Republicans have sunk two Biden nominations — David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget, according to earlier reports by Bloomberg and other news outlets.
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Omarova’s supporters said she’s been mischaracterized and she has said she supports free markets.
“There is definitely a different standard applied to someone like me,” she told Financial Times. “I am an easy target: an immigrant, a woman, a minority.”