OCC Nominee Omarova Withdraws From Bank Regulator Consideration

Saule Omarova’s nomination was met with hostility from the traditional banking sector.

Dec 7, 2021 at 10:27 p.m. UTC
Updated Dec 12, 2021 at 5:37 p.m. UTC

U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) nominee Saule Omarova has withdrawn her name to be the next head of the federal bank regulator, weeks after a contentious confirmation hearing where both Democrats and Republicans indicated they would not vote for her.

Omarova, who has criticized both the banking and cryptocurrency sectors, was nominated to head the federal bank regulator in September by U.S. President Joe Biden. Her nomination was met with opposition from the banking industry, due to past remarks she made about having the Federal Reserve take over aspects of the current banking system.

The Cornell University professor faced a hostile confirmation hearing in mid-November, which largely focused on her comments about the role of commercial banks in the U.S. financial sector. She was also called a “Communist” in the course of the hearing.

Following the hearing, five Democrat senators reportedly expressed concerns about voting for her. A final confirmation hearing in the Senate Banking Committee was not scheduled.

“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. At this point in the process, however, it is no longer tenable for me to continue as a Presidential nominee,” Omarova wrote in a letter withdrawing her nomination.

In a statement, Biden said he accepted Omarova’s withdrawal, saying he nominated her due to her “expertise in financial regulation.”

“As a strong advocate for consumers and a staunch defender of the safety and soundness of our financial system, Saule would have brought invaluable insight and perspective to our important work on behalf of the American people. But unfortunately, from the very beginning of her nomination, Saule was subjected to inappropriate personal attacks that were far beyond the pale. I am thankful to Chairman [Sherrod] Brown for giving her a fair hearing and the opportunity to demonstrate her qualifications,” he said.

The OCC has operated under the supervision of Acting Comptroller Michael Hsu since May. Hsu succeeded former Acting Comptroller Blake Paulson, who served in the interim after former Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks stepped down in January.

Biden said the OCC oversees 1,200 banks, adding that he will announce a new nominee at a future date.

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