Quarles Nomination for Fed Post Advanced by Senate Banking Panel

  • Committee also backs Otting to be comptroller of the currency
  • Trump picks would play key roles in dialing back regulations

The Senate Banking Committee voted Thursday to advance the nominations of Randal Quarles to serve as the Federal Reserve’s vice chairman for supervision and Joseph Otting to be Comptroller of the Currency, taking key steps toward President Donald Trump’s goal of reshaping regulation of Wall Street.

If confirmed by the full Senate, Quarles and Otting will be the two most powerful U.S. banking regulators, poised to play leading roles in efforts to roll back post-crisis rules that Trump administration officials have said are stunting economic growth.

The two will have extensive influence over bank capital and liquidity, and the enforcement of regulations such as the Volcker Rule, which restricts lenders from investing with their own money. In his role as a Fed governor, Quarles would also play a role in shaping monetary policy.

Quarles was a Treasury Department official during President George W. Bush’s administration. He has more recently led a Salt Lake City-based private equity firm after a stint at Carlyle Group LP. Otting led OneWest Bank when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was its chairman. Democrats have criticized OneWest’s home foreclosure practices when Otting and Mnuchin were running the lender.

Bipartisan Support

Both nominees were approved with bipartisan support, despite the objection of Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the Banking Committee’s top Democrat.

“While I appreciate both nominees’ willingness to enter public service, I do not think either nominee is the person we want in these important roles at our financial watchdogs,” Brown said in a statement.  “With additional vacancies at the Fed and other agencies, I fear more of the same type of nominees from the administration.”

In addition to unanimous Republican support, Quarles was backed by Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, John Tester of Montana and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Heitkamp also voted for Otting.

Quarles would fill one of four openings on the seven-member Fed board. Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer announced his plans to resign on Wednesday, removing an influential voice on monetary policy and a powerful advocate for maintaining existing regulations. In addition, Janet Yellen’s term as chair expires in February. Trump has said that it’s possible that he might renominate Yellen, though the White House is also looking at other candidates.

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