GOP grills Biden banking nominee over her ‘socialist manifesto’
Senate Republicans grilled President Joe Biden’s pick for a top banking position during a tense confirmation hearing.
Biden nominated Cornell Law professor Saule Omarova for Comptroller of the Currency, a position within the Treasury Department that regulates some of the largest banks in the U.S., including Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo. Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee accused Omarova, who attended Moscow State University, of wanting to harm the banking industry.
“Professor Omarova’s policy views are too radical, and preserving the prosperity that our free-market economy makes possible is too important to make her our nation’s top banking regulator,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).
Toomey, the committee’s ranking Republican, referenced an academic paper Omarova wrote, wherein she calls for the end of banking “as we know it.”
“Taken in their totality, her ideas amount to a socialist manifesto for American financial services,” Toomey said. “She wants to nationalize the banking system, put in place price controls, create a command-and-control economy where the government allocates resources explicitly.”
Omarova denied the accusation, saying that the paper was an academic exercise expounding on implications of the onset of digital currencies.
“This paper was written in the context of an ongoing academic debate on how to approach digitizing the dollar, because this seems to be inevitable,” the Kazak native said.
Despite her explanation, many House members expressed hesitation.
“I don’t mean any disrespect, I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said during Thursday’s hearing.
Several Democrats also expressed misgivings over Omarova’s writings.
“I have significant concerns about positions that you have taken…related to our financial system bank regulations,” Sen. Jon Tester (D-MN) said.
According to Politico, several other committee Democrats are wary of Omarova as well, including Sens. Mark Warner (VA), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), and Raphael Warnack (VA).
House members also scrutinized Omarova for her recent comment that “we want” oil and gas companies to go bankrupt to combat climate change.
“That was poor phrasing, I admit to it,” Omarova told lawmakers. “I do understand that energy companies are a very important part of our American economy … what I was actually saying in that particular presentation is that we need to think collectively about finding new ways to help workers in this sector to transition to higher-paying jobs if we are looking into the future and the rise of new technologies.”
Given that the Senate is split 50-50 down party lines, Omarova would need unanimous support of Democrats to secure confirmation.