Moderate Democrats seem wary of President Biden’s O.C.C. pick.
Republican senators took turns describing her as a communist, a socialist and a radical on Thursday, but it was the circumspect stance of moderate Democrats that spoke loudest about Saule Omarova’s prospects for becoming one of the country’s top banking regulators.
Ms. Omarova, President Biden’s pick to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, has faced steep opposition from industry groups and Republican lawmakers, with critics at times suggesting that her birthplace — the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan — and her education in Moscow were reason to be suspicious of her.
During Thursday’s hearing to consider her confirmation, she sought to fend off critics on the Senate Banking Committee by declaring her devotion to American capitalism. “I fell in love with this country and its people from Day 1,” she said, praising the United States’ “dynamic and diverse markets.”
Ms. Omarova, a Cornell Law School professor, worked with banks as a lawyer at the white-shoe firm Davis Polk & Wardwell and was a policy adviser in the Treasury Department during the presidency of George W. Bush. But in her academic career she has explored ideas that would amount to sweeping overhauls to the structure of the financial system, including a plan she sketched out to let the Federal Reserve provide bank accounts to small-time customers using its own digital currency.