- Saule Omarova, President Joe Biden's pick to head the nation's largest bank regulator, has withdrawn her nomination for the top post, the White House said Tuesday.
- Omarova, a Cornell University law professor whom Biden nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in September, has faced criticism from Republicans and some moderate Democrats who have questioned her past writings and public comments on bank oversight, saying they reveal "radical" views regarding the U.S. financial system.
- Omarova's withdrawal follows a contentious hearing in front of the Senate Banking Committee last month, when the professor was grilled about her upbringing in the Soviet Union, a paper she wrote as an undergraduate and recent comments she made about the fossil fuel industry.
In a statement Tuesday, Biden said he accepted Omarova's request to withdraw, adding he believes she would have brought "invaluable insight and perspective" to the role.
"But unfortunately, from the very beginning of her nomination, Saule was subjected to inappropriate personal attacks that were far beyond the pale. I am thankful to Chairman [Sherrod] Brown for giving her a fair hearing and the opportunity to demonstrate her qualifications," he said.
During last month's hearing, Brown called Omarova "one of the most qualified nominees ever," and fellow Democrats on the panel applauded her career as an academic and banking law attorney.
However, Republicans including Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, the Senate Banking Committee's ranking member, questioned her ideology. Toomey requested she provide the panel with the undergraduate thesis she wrote on Karl Marx while studying at Moscow State University in the 1980s.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA, asked if she'd ever resigned from a group called "The Young Communists" during her childhood spent in Kazakhstan during the Soviet era and asked whether he should call her "professor" or "comrade."
Other critiques to her nomination have come from moderate Democrats such as Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, both of whom took issue with Omarova's past public comments saying small oil and gas companies should go bankrupt to combat climate change.
In the evenly divided Senate, the lack of consensus among Democrats would have prevented Omarova's confirmation to lead the OCC, which has been without a permanent head since Joseph Otting stepped down in May 2020.
In her letter of withdrawal, Omarova acknowledged the hurdles her nomination would have faced going forward.
"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," she wrote. "At this point in the process, however, it is no longer tenable for me to continue as a Presidential nominee."