Senators Scrutinize OCC Nominee’s Stance on Bank Reg Reform Law

Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee today, Saule Omarova—President Biden’s nominee to serve as the next comptroller of the currency—faced tough questions from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about her views on banking, including her opposition to the bipartisan S. 2155 regulatory reform law that was championed by the American Banking Association.

Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), both key architects of the landmark 2018 legislation, raised concerns about Omarova’s stance on the bill, which she testified against. Warner told the nominee he was “pretty disappointed” in her views on S. 2155, and that “I very much disagree with your characterization of the bill.”

During the hearing, Omarova also came under fire for previous comments in which she called for the “debanking” of what she called “socially sub-optimal industries,” including oil and gas producers. “I take issue with these statements,” said Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho). “I don’t believe we should be encouraging our financial institutions or directing our financial institutions to bankrupt industries for political purposes.” Crapo added that similar attempts to control the allocation of capital were made under the Obama administration as part of “Operation Chokepoint,” which sought to curtail funding to politically disfavored industries like firearms manufacturers.

The Senate Banking Committee must now consider whether to hold a vote to send the nomination to the full Senate. No date has been set for a confirmation vote.