The Senate voted 69-24 Thursday to confirm banking attorney Jelena McWilliams as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

McWilliams, who was most recently chief legal officer at Fifth Third, previously served as a Senate GOP aide and an attorney at the Federal Reserve Board. The White House announced the nomination in November.

The confirmation of McWilliams largely completes President Trump’s bank regulatory team, giving policymakers the opportunity to re-examine and potentially scale back existing rules, including the Dodd-Frank Act’s Volcker Rule.

Jelena McWilliams, nominee for FDIC chair
The Senate confirmed McWilliams on Thursday by a wide margin. Bloomberg News


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the last agency without a permanent director, is run by acting Director Mick Mulvaney, a Trump appointee.

McWilliams built her career in law and banking after emigrating from the former Yugoslavia when she was 18. She's been widely praised by members of both political parties for her banking acumen.

“She has many years’ experience with banking regulation, a compelling personal story, and deep relationships with influential members on the Hill,” said former FDIC chair Sheila Bair. “Articulate and assertive, she is well qualified to lead the FDIC.”

She was also hailed by industry representatives.

"Jelena McWilliams’ unique combination of policy, regulatory and banking experience make her an exceptional selection for the role of FDIC Chair," said Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association.

But not everyone is supportive. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., the sole vote against McWilliams when her nomination was reviewed by the Banking Committee, said she opposes President Trump's deregulatory agenda.

"Ms. McWilliams is the latest Trump appointee who thinks the biggest problem with our financial rules is that the government is just too darn hard on the banks," Warren said during debate on the nomination. "Most Americans don’t feel that way. They want tougher rules on Wall Street, not weaker ones. We should listen to them, because they’re the ones who pay the price when things go wrong on Wall Street."

Victoria Finkle

Victoria Finkle

Victoria Finkle is deputy Washington bureau chief and editor of American Banker's op-ed blog, BankThink.