At Thursday’s hearing, Joe Biden was nominated as the leader of the nation’s top banking regulator. After facing a wave of attacks from Republicans and the suspicion of some Democrats, he is at risk of being rejected by the Senate. .
Saule Omarova was appointed by the President as the head of the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, which is responsible for overseeing National Banks including Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
Due to her severe criticism of Wall Street and her growing up experience in the Soviet Union, she has been one of Biden’s most controversial economic and financial appointments. She was born in what is now known as Kazakhstan.
Despite increasing opposition in recent weeks, Biden has been pushing for Omalova’s nomination, but when she testified on the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, her confirmation appeared to be in jeopardy.
The fiercest and most personal torture came from a Republican senator who accused her of being a communist.
“I don’t know whether to call you a’professor’ or a’comrade’,” quipped Republican Senator John F. Kennedy from Louisiana. Pat Tumi, the top Republican in the group, stated that she would “end the banking industry as we know it” and criticized Omarova’s undergraduate thesis on Karl Marx as evidence of her “radical” choice.
Once, Omarova responded: “I am not a communist. I do not agree with this ideology. I cannot choose where I was born… My family suffered under the communist regime.”
Two moderate Democrats also expressed skepticism, which is a disturbing sign of Omarova’s confirmed prospects in the Senate, where Republicans and Democrats are equal.
Senator Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana, and Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, both expressed concern about Omarova’s previous criticism of certain aspects of the 2018 bill they supported. The bill relaxes the supervision of community banks.
“I’m sorry you have to face an attack that I think is unfair,” Tester said. “However, I do have some major concerns about the position you have taken, including being a witness to the Banking Commission in relation to our financial system, banking supervision, and OCC-related legislation.”
Warner added that he was “very disappointed” with her stance on community banking laws.
Omarova said that she had expressed concern that this might inadvertently weaken the supervision of some of the country’s largest banks, but insisted that she supports the bill and, if confirmed, will be implemented.
“I testified in the S. 2155 case and expressed my deep concern about unintentionally relaxing the supervision of the largest financial institutions engaged in high-risk transactions, which do not necessarily follow the traditional relationship banking model,” she said.
However, her response did not seem to completely calm the Democratic Party’s concerns about her nomination. Teste said he is also concerned about her proposal by a state-backed national investment agency that can decide which economic sectors to lend to.
“Do you see how risky it is to make such a statement?” he asked her. “One person makes that potential decision… You are a one-person store. Do you know how dangerous this is?”
Supporters of Omarova’s nomination have repeatedly condemned the Republican attacks on her. Sherrod Brown, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said that she had been a victim of “despicable means” throughout the process.
“This is how Republicans turn a qualified woman into a Marxist monster,” Brown said. “Now we know what happens when Trumpism meets McCarthyism.”