WASHINGTON — President Biden plans to nominate a law professor who has criticized Wall Street banks to oversee some of the largest U.S. lenders, according to people familiar with the matter.
Biden is expected to tap Saule Omarova, a Cornell University law professor, to become the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees national banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America. A formal announcement could come later this week, the people said.
A White House spokeswoman declined to comment. Omarova didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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The OCC is an independent bureau of the Treasury Department. It oversees about 1,200 banks with total assets of about $14 trillion, some two-thirds of the total in the U.S. banking system, making it one of the most powerful regulators alongside the Fed and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
On Twitter, Omarova criticized this summer’s end to temporary restrictions on big bank share buybacks and dividends after the banks performed well in annual stress tests.
In a separate tweet, she criticized a news report on acquisitions by JPMorgan. “Does the world need JPMorgan to grow bigger or more powerful? Just wondering,” she wrote.
In academic writing, Omarova has called for a shift of consumer banking deposits from private firms to the Federal Reserve and called to “effectively end banking as we know it.”
The same 2020 paper endorsed steps to “radically redefine the role of a central bank as the ultimate public platform for generating, modulating, and allocating financial resources in a democratic economy — the People’s Ledger.”
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The pick is expected to be cheered by progressive Democrats who support her criticism of banking and is likely to meet opposition from Republicans and industry groups.
A Republican Senate aide said GOP lawmakers are concerned that her views are “far to the left of anyone we’ve seen in the regulatory space.”
The Biden administration has struggled to find a comptroller nominee who would be embraced by its Democratic allies on Capitol Hill. Earlier this year, the White House abandoned a former Obama-era Treasury official it had eyed for the post after he drew opposition from progressive Democrats. Several other people were considered for the role but never nominated.
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Michael Hsu, a former Fed staffer, has been serving as acting comptroller since May.