Battle over Biden’s OCC pick ends in the Senate as Omarova withdraws

The battle in the U.S. Senate over President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has finally come to an end.

After facing fiery pushback from Republicans, Saule Omarova withdrew her name from consideration for the role as chief of one of the nation’s top banking regulators, Reuters reported Tuesday.

According to NPR, Senate Republicans had argued that Omarova held “communist” views, an assertion she denies.

Fierce opposition

Her nomination also faced fierce opposition from banks, according to a report from Axios, which contended that “powerful trade groups” took a “united” and public stand against Omarova over “an academic paper in which [she] floated that the government provide consumer banking services via the Fed.”

During her confirmation hearings in the Senate, Omarova faced tough questions from Republicans including Sen. John Kennedy (LA), who remarked, “I don’t know whether to call you ‘professor’ or ‘comrade.'”

“I am not a communist,” the Biden nominee said in response, according to NPR. “I do not subscribe to that ideology. I could not choose where I was born,” said Omarova, who was born in Kazakhstan in what was then the Soviet Union but is a U.S. citizen, NPR reports.

On the same day, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey (R) claimed Omarova had a history of promoting “radical” and “socialist” ideas, according to CNBC.

“No longer tenable”

In a letter to the White House seeking to withdraw her name from consideration, Omarova said it was “no longer tenable” for her to continue seeking confirmation to the role of OCC chief.

“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,” she said, according to NPR.

President Joe Biden said in a separate statement Tuesday that he chose her for the role “because of her deep expertise in financial regulation and her long-standing, respected career in the private sector, the public sector, and as a leading academic in the field.”

He also vowed to “continue to work to find a nominee for this position, and plan to make an announcement at a future date.”

According to Axios, it’s been more than a year since the OCC has been led by a permanent, Senate-confirmed official.

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