At least five moderate Democratic senators have reportedly told the White House they will not support his embattled nominee to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Such opposition from within his own party would effectively kill the nomination of Saule Omarova to head the powerful bank-regulatory agency.
According to a Wednesday evening report by Axios, the five Democratic senators include three on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Those Democratic senators on the panel that would have to approve Ms. Omarova’s nomination, according to Axios, are Sens. Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Warner of Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.
The two other Democrats reportedly opposed to Ms. Omarova are Sens. John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Mark Kelly of Arizona.
Axios reported that the senators have told the banking panel’s chairman — Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat — and/or Biden administration officials of their opposition.
But the White House still publicly supports their Soviet-born nominee.
“The White House continues to strongly support her historic nomination,” a White House official told Axios. Ms. Omarova “has been treated unfairly since her nomination with unacceptable red-baiting from Republicans like it’s the McCarthy era.”
Ms. Omarova is a Cornell University law professor who has written extensively about reining in the private banking industry and using federal regulatory powers over it to favor left-wing policy initiatives.
She also has stated that she wanted the fossil fuel industry to go bankrupt to battle global warming and would back blocking credit to “suboptimal” industries such as arms dealers.
“The powers of the comptroller of the currency are enormous: powers to decide who gets to open a bank account, who doesn’t; what kind of loans can and can’t be offered,” said Sen. Patrick Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican. “The opportunity to exercise a radical ideology through the powers of the comptroller of the currency are chilling.”
At a hearing last week, Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, asked Ms. Omarova, who had been born in Kazakhstan and graduated from Moscow State University in 1989, about her membership in Communist youth organizations.
Mr. Kennedy at one point said Ms. Omarova joined a Marxist Facebook group in 2019 “to discuss socialist and anti-capitalist views.”
“I don’t know whether to call you ‘professor’ or ‘comrade,’” he told her.
“Senator, I’m not a communist,” she said.
Ms. Omarova denied being a Communist and told Mr. Kennedy “I could not choose where I was born. I do not remember joining any Facebook group that subscribes to that ideology … my family suffered under the communist regime.”
The offices of the five Democratic senators whom Axios named either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the news site wrote Wednesday evening.
• Kerry Picket contributed to this report.
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