Five Dem senators tell Biden they don’t back his bank regulator nominee

The White House has been told by five Democratic senators they won’t be supporting President Joe Biden’s nomination of Saule Omarova to lead the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is the federal agency that oversees the banking industry.

The notifications mean that her nomination to lead the potent regulating agency is dead in the water in the evenly divided chamber.

“The defiant opposition from a broad coalition of senators reflects the real policy concerns they had with Omarova, a Cornell University law professor who’s attracted controversy for her academic writings about hemming in big banks,” Axios reported, noting the Democrat defections.

Republicans were largely unified against Omarova’s nomination, citing her Marxist-leaning writings and former education in the now-defunct Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

Axios noted that some Democrats appear willing to give Republicans a political and symbolic victory over their opposition to the nominee.

The outlet noted that in a Wednesday phone call, Sens. Jon Tester (Montana), Mark Warner (Virginia), and Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) informed Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) they were opposed to Omarova.

They have since been joined by Sens. Mark Kelly (Arizona) and John Hickenlooper (Colorado) in opposition.

Axios noted that all five senators either refused to comment or had not done so by publication time.

The outlet also said that Biden White House officials have heard directly from the five Democrats and are aware that Omarova’s nomination faces a nearly impossible uphill battle at this point. That said, the administration is continuing to publicly support her.

“The White House continues strongly support her historic nomination,” said one White House official in a statement to Axios.

“Saule Omarova is eminently qualified for this position,” the official added. “She has been treated unfairly since her nomination with unacceptable red-baiting from Republicans like it’s the McCarthy era.”

Republicans and others have repeatedly criticized Omarova for her past writings and comments during recent confirmation hearings, including her call to “end banking as we know it.”

“President Biden checked off another progressive identity box last week by nominating Saule Omarova as Comptroller of the Currency. Some Trump appointees were ridiculed for having supported the elimination of their agencies. Ms. Omarova wants to eliminate the banks she’s being appointed to regulate,” The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board noted earlier this month.

“The Cornell University law school professor’s radical ideas might make even Bernie Sanders blush. She graduated from Moscow State University in 1989 on the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship. Thirty years later, she still believes the Soviet economic system was superior, and that U.S. banking should be remade in the Gosbank’s image,” the paper added.

During her hearing, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) read through some of her materials before asking if he should refer to her as “comrade.”

“In 2020 you wrote a paper called, ‘The People’s Ledger,’ where you said we need to abolish bank accounts and make everybody set up an account with the Fed, where the federal government will have access to your data,” he said.

The same year, she “you wrote another paper called, ‘The Climate Case for a National Investment Authority,’ where you said what we need to do to the oil and gas industry is have the federal government bankrupt it so we can tackle climate change,” said Kennedy.

“In 2019, you joined…a Marxist Facebook group to discuss socialist and anti-capitalist views,” he added.

“Now that’s what I see from your record. And you have the right to believe every one of these things,” Kennedy continued, addressing Omarova directly. “You do. This is America. But, I don’t mean any disrespect, but I don’t know whether to call you ‘professor’ or ‘comrade.’”

Missy Halsey


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