WASHINGTON — The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday approved the nominations of Randal Quarles for vice chairman of supervision at the Federal Reserve Board and Joseph Otting to run the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. They will now be sent to the full Senate for confirmation.
Quarles' nomination was approved by all of the Republicans on the committee and five Democrats, while Otting’s nomination was supported by only one Democrat, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
The top Democrat on the panel, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, supported neither of them. “I do not think either nominee is the person we want in these important roles at our financial watchdogs,” Brown said.
Quarles, a managing director at the private equity firm Cynosure Group and a Treasury undersecretary in the George W. Bush administration, is likely to have a smoother path to confirmation than Otting. The latter was an executive at OneWest Bank, which gained a reputation for foreclosing on homeowners.
“Instead of helping families recover from the financial crisis, as CEO of OneWest Bank, he contributed to the devastation,” Brown said of Otting.
Meanwhile, the meeting of the Senate committee recalled earlier tensions regarding former President Obama's past nominees for the Fed board, including those who were never confirmed.
Even if Quarles is confirmed, that would still leave three vacancies on the seven-member board. On Wednesday, Stanley Fischer, who is currently the Fed vice chairman of monetary policy, said he will resign in October. Former Gov. Daniel Tarullo stepped down earlier this year.
Brown lamented the reluctance of former panel Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., to hold hearings on Fed nominees picked by Obama, which he said contributed to the abundance of empty slots.
“Because this committee refused to consider President Obama’s nominees to the Federal Reserve Board in the last Congress there will still be three additional vacancies,” Brown said.
However, current Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said Fischer’s resignation “highlights the need to quickly confirm Mr. Quarles so the seven-member board can keep at least four members.”