White House Considering Former Treasury Official for FDIC Board

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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is considering nominating Jeremiah Norton, an executive director for JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s investment bank, to sit on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s board of directors.

Norton, a former Treasury official in the Bush administration, has been recommended for the spot by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, according to sources. The White House is currently vetting him and, unless issues arise in that process, he is likely to be chosen for the independent board seat.

Under rules for FDIC picks, the position is one of two for which the GOP sends names to the White House, in exchange for the Republicans' backing the administration's choices for the other three posts.

In the case of Norton, however, that process is murkier than ever, as Republicans are already holding up a package of three FDIC nominees — one of whom is a GOP pick — due to concerns that President Obama might seek to make a recess appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other agencies.

It is unclear when the White House will complete its vetting process for Norton, or how fast Senate Democrats would seek to move the nomination if it is made.

Norton, a former deputy assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions policy, would fill the position now occupied at the FDIC by Thomas Curry, who himself is awaiting Senate confirmation to become comptroller of the currency.

While his views are not widely known, Norton's position at Treasury during the 2008 crisis put him front-and-center during the formulation of many of the government's key policies in response to the financial turmoil.

While at Treasury, he also oversaw the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program. Previously, he was a legislative staffer for Rep. Edward Royce, R-Calif., a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee.

A nomination would mark a potential full slate of FDIC board members for Senate consideration. But regardless of whether the White House names someone for the fifth seat, all five are still in limbo.

The Senate was close Saturday to confirming several nominees, including Curry, Martin Gruenberg as FDIC chairman — who is now acting chairman — and former central banker Thomas Hoenig as vice chairman.

Yet McConnell blocked the vote, demanding the administration vow not to make recess appointments of more controversial nominees. Those contentious picks include Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which also holds an FDIC seat.

The Senate voted to allow the nominations of Gruenberg, Hoenig and Curry to carry over automatically for future floor consideration in the next legislative session, while Cordray will have to be re-nominated and re-approved by the Senate Banking Committee.

There is some speculation that even if the administration has compiled its five picks for the board, the administration may still stall on officially naming someone for the fifth and final seat, now held by Curry, due to intricate procedural details about the FDIC board.

If the impasse over nominees ends, Gruenberg, Hoenig and Curry could still be confirmed rather quickly while Cordray's fate remains undecided because Republicans have vowed to block any CFPB nominee unless Congress reforms the bureau's structure. But Democrats are said to be wary of moving forward with an appointee for the independent seat until a CFPB director is installed to prevent the two GOP-submitted directors from deadlocking agency decisions.

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