The White House says it still stands behind Saule Omarova as its nominee to run the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, despite impassioned attacks against her from Republicans and concerns from key Democrats.
"Saule Omarova is eminently qualified and was nominated for this role because of her lifetime of work on financial regulation, including in the private sector, in government and as a leading academic in the field. The White House continues to strongly support her historic nomination," the White House said in a statement to FOX Business this week.
Potentially the biggest threat to Omarova's nomination is Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who told FOX Business Tuesday he's not sure Omarova is the right person for the job.
"Some of Ms. Omarova’s past statements about the role of government in the financial system raise real concerns about her ability to impartially serve at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and I’m looking forward to meeting with her to discuss them," Tester said.
Tester is on the Senate Banking Committee, which oversees Omarova's nomination. Committees are split evenly along party lines in the 50-50 Senate. So unless any Republicans support Omarova, which is unlikely, Tester has the ability block Omarova from getting to the Senate floor
Among the controversial comments made by Omarova, a law processor at Cornell University, is a call to end banking "as we know it," by "the complete migration of demand deposit accounts to the Federal Reserve."
Demand deposit accounts are the standard checking and savings accounts most Americans have with private banks.
Omarova also previously called the financial services industry she would regulate in her potential new job the "quintessential a------ industry. And as FOX Business reported Tuesday, she pushed or a "National Investment Authority" that would aim to sidestep Congress to direct public and private funds to "vital infrastructure and the real economy."
Part of the reason it is necessary, Omarova argued at the roundtable, is members of Congress like Manchin, D-W.Va., who oppose massive government spending programs.
"It’s fine when, if we have a strong majority in Congress and we are sure that Congress will fund whatever we need, but we can never be sure of that," she said.
"People like Joe Manchin, for example – supposed to be on the Democratic side – and yet feel very uncomfortable with big spending ideas, right?" Omarova continued. "To supplement that kind of fiscally constraint and politically constraint kind of spending, we need to make sure we have a strong public institution that can harness the existing abundant private capital and pull it in the right direction."
Republicans have also raised concerns about Omarova's college thesis on Marxism at Moscow State University, which they allege she is refusing to turn over to the Banking Committee.
Omarova told the Financial Times that she actually became an "anti-communist" during her time in college. And her supporters in the Senate have torn into Republicans for this line of attack against the nominee.
"Before today, I thought, red scare McCarthyism was rightly relegated to the dustbin of history," Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in a statement last month. "Any American citizen who fled communist repression – whether it be FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams or OCC nominee Saule Omarova – should be lauded for their courage and conviction. I believe that my colleagues – from both sides of the aisle – will reject such character assassinations."
If Omarova's nomination fails, it will be the third of President Biden's to be blocked in the Senate. A united GOP front in the Senate, along with a handful of moderate Democrats, prevented David Chipman from running the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and blocked Neera Tanden from running the Office of Management and Budget.