In October, Banking Committee member Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) became the first Democrat to tell reporters that he had “concerns” about the nominee over Biden’s pick for a bank regulator, Dr. Saule Omarova.

By Donald Shaw, Sludge

Biden’s pick for leading the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Saule Omarova, withdrew from the nominating process this week. Omarova, who was raised in the Soviet Union, was repeatedly attacked by Banking Committee Republicans as a communist, but that’s not why she was forced to withdraw.

Omarova had to withdraw because several bank-funded Democrats decided months ago to oppose her. Back in October, Banking Committee member Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) became the first Democrat to tell reporters that he had “concerns” about the nominee over her academic work that is supportive of the federal government having an increased role in providing banking services. Because the Banking Committee is evenly divided between the two parties, Omarova’s nomination could not have advanced to the full Senate without unanimous Democratic support.

Jon Tester and Saule Omarova appear together with Omarova highlighted in red

Tester’s public image is of a populist farmer who stands for working-class rural America, but his actions as a legislator are often more aligned with Wall Street. He has sponsored or cosponsored dozens of bills impacting the financial industry, including some that would enhance consumer protections and are supported by progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). But often over the years, Tester has been one of a handful of Democrats—Heitkamp, Donnelly, Coons, etc.—who have joined Republican bills to roll back regulations, including reducing privacy notice standards, exempting swaps from clearing requirements, and allowing more banks to dodge the Volcker Rule and make speculative trades. In 2018, Tester was an original cosponsor of S.2155, a bill from Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) that was signed into law by Trump and rolled back regulations for dozens of the largest banks in the world.

Read More