Under Fire, Biden's Pick for Bank Regulator Pulls Out

'It is no longer tenable for me to continue' as the nominee for OCC, says Saule Omarova
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2021 8:31 AM CST
Omarova Is Out as Biden's OCC Nominee
Saule Omarova testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 18, 2021.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Saule Omarova, President Biden's nominee to head up the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, has taken her name out of the running. "I deeply value President Biden's trust in my abilities and remain firmly committed to the Administration's vision of a prosperous, inclusive, and just future for our country," Omarova wrote in a letter to the White House, per NPR. "At this point in the process, however, it is no longer tenable for me to continue as a Presidential nominee." "I have accepted Saule Omarova's request to withdraw her name from nomination," Biden said Tuesday, noting he'd seek out a new nominee for the independent arm of the Treasury Department that oversees more than 1,000 banks, per the Wall Street Journal.

The Cornell University law professor became a point of contention during the Senate nomination process, with some moderate Dems such as Jon Tester and Kyrsten Sinema balking at some of Omarova's ideas on banking oversight, and GOP senators coming down especially hard on her past academic research, in which she'd suggested big changes to the banking industry. Some of the pushback got "unusually personal," per NPR, with insinuations that the Kazakhstan-born Omarova subscribed to communist views. "I don't know whether to call you professor or comrade," Republican Sen. John Kennedy said at her Banking Committee confirmation hearing, a remark that Omarova rebuffed.

"I am not a communist," she replied. "I do not subscribe to that ideology. I could not choose where I was born." In a statement, Biden slammed the "inappropriate" GOP attacks against Omarova, calling them "far beyond the pale" and noting that she "would have brought invaluable insight and perspective to our important work on behalf of the American people" as a "strong advocate for consumers and a staunch defender of the safety and soundness of our financial system."

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Banks are celebrating the news, per Axios. "The withdrawal of Professor Saule Omarova's nomination ... exhibits the importance of community banks to Main Street communities and local economic growth," Independent Community Bankers of America CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey says in a statement. As for the next possible nominee, "I hope the Biden administration will select a nominee with mainstream views about the American economy," GOP Sen. Patrick Toomey said after Omarova's withdrawal, per CNBC. (More Biden administration stories.)

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