Saule Omarova, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be Comptroller of the Currency, withdrew her candidacy for the post Tuesday.
“It was a great honor and a true privilege to be nominated by President Biden to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) overseeing the U.S. national banking system. 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,” Omarova wrote in a letter posted with the president’s press release on the White House website. “At this point in the process, however, it is no longer tenable for me to continue as a Presidential nominee.”
Omarova, a Cornell University law professor, faced fierce and united Republican opposition to her candidacy to lead the OCC, which supervises approximately 1,200 of the country’s largest banks. Biden and other Democrats criticized the tone of Republican attacks on Omarova made during her confirmation hearing in November as “red-baiting” and “character assassination.”
Biden said Tuesday the criticism of her background, particularly that of her early years growing up in Soviet-controlled Kazakhstan, went “far beyond the pale.”
“Professor Omarova’s self-proclaimed radical ideas for America’s financial system were not suitable for our nation’s top banking regulator,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (Penn.), ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, in a tweet.
But it was opposition from some moderate Democrats, including Senate Banking Committee members Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia, that proved to be Omarova’s undoing. Her nomination required all 12 Democrats on the committee to vote in favor, and when it became clear she did not have their support, her bid was doomed to fail.
Biden said he accepted her request to withdraw her nomination and pledged to “continue to work to find a nominee for this position, and plan to make an announcement at a future date.”
The OCC is currently led by acting Comptroller Michael Hsu.