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Biden nominee Saule Omarova withdraws from banking watchdog role

Saule Omarova sits at a desk near bottles of water and a card with her name on it.
Cornell law professor Saule Omarova speaks during a Senate Banking Committee hearing Nov. 18.
(Senate Banking Committee)

President Biden’s pick to lead a key U.S. banking regulator has withdrawn her name from consideration, according to a statement from the White House.

Biden accepted Saule Omarova’s request to no longer be the nominee to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, according to a statement Tuesday.

Although Biden’s choice of an outspoken Wall Street and cryptocurrency critic delighted progressive groups and lawmakers such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the choice appeared to be too controversial to win backing from moderate Democrats that the candidate would need in the evenly divided Senate.

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Banks and the right wing know Saule Omarova may be an effective regulator, so they’re absurdly attacking her as a communist.

Omarova’s detractors have highlighted her origin in Soviet Union-era Kazakhstan, her studies in Moscow and her academic research advocating for a fundamental overhaul of the financial system.

Her defenders say that the personal attacks on Omarova are unfair and that she’s a well-qualified nominee. Omarova would have been the first woman and nonwhite person to hold the job.

At her confirmation hearing, moderate Democrats such as Jon Tester of Montana and Mark R. Warner of Virginia expressed concerns about Omarova’s views.

For her part, Omarova has said that she rejects communism as “deeply flawed” and called herself a “free-market idealist.” She said she was surprised by the “depravity” of the attacks on her nomination. She has also praised the U.S. banking system as the best in the world and insisted that her academic writings were thought experiments that weren’t necessarily meant as a practical blueprint.


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