Liberal senators cheered the decision. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) pointed to Omarova’s background as an academic, Treasury Department official and corporate lawyer, saying her experience “will allow her to work with stakeholders across our financial system to ensure the economy works for everyone, and to protect our economic recovery from the risky activities of Wall Street and other bad actors.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a statement Omarova will be “a fearless champion for consumers.”
But Omarova faces a potentially difficult path to confirmation in a closely divided Senate. Her advocacy for some systemic changes is raising alarm among Republicans and banking interests with ties to moderate Democrats.
She has called for the Federal Reserve to offer consumer bank accounts, appealing in an academic paper last year to “effectively end banking as we know it.” In that piece, she endorsed an “overtly radical reform” of the Federal Reserve, saying that the central bank should be remade as “the ultimate public platform for generating, modulating, and allocating financial resources in a modern economy.”
Omarova, who would help establish a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency, has characterized the technology as “benefiting mainly the dysfunctional financial system we already have,” according to Bloomberg News.
Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.), the top Republican on the Senate banking panel, said in a statement he has “serious reservations about her nomination,” pointing to what he called her “extreme leftist ideas.”
Omarova did not respond to a request for comment.
The Kazakhstan native has diverse work experience. She studied at Moscow State University before earning a PhD from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a law degree from Northwestern University. She worked as a lawyer at Davis Polk & Wardwell, a top New York firm, where she focused on corporate transactions and advising clients on financial regulation. Then, during President George W. Bush’s administration, she joined the Treasury Department as a special adviser on regulatory policy.