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Lawmakers Clash Over Treasury Nominee’s Anti-Fossil Fuel Positions

Saule Omarova

Fireworks erupted on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee on Thursday over President Biden’s nominee to lead a top regulatory post in the Treasury Department, with Republicans challenging her worldview as a native of the Soviet Union and Democrats accusing Republicans of engaging in “Red Scare” tactics.

Saule Omarova, a Cornell University law professor nominated for comptroller of the currency, faces unified Republican opposition over past statements that she wanted the fossil fuel industry to go bankrupt to help tackle climate change and proposed to block credit to “suboptimal” industries such as arms dealers.

Her nomination is on shaky ground. Two Democrats, Sen. Mark R. Warner of Virginia and John Tester of Montana, expressed concerns about Ms. Omarova’s past objections to bipartisan banking legislation. She would be the first woman and first non-White to hold the post.

Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana Republican, asked Ms. Omarova about growing up in the Soviet Union and whether she had ever resigned from a communist youth organization. She was born in Kazakhstan and graduated from Moscow State University in 1989.

Mr. Kennedy at one point said Ms. Omarova joined a Marxist Facebook group in 2019 “to discuss socialist and anti-capitalist views.”

“I don’t know whether to call you ‘professor’ or ‘comrade,’” Mr. Kennedy told her. …snip…

Mr. Kennedy said later that Ms. Omarova can believe what she wants in the U.S., but “we can’t just let anybody be comptroller of the currency.”

“In 2020, you wrote another paper called ‘The Climate Case for a National Investment Authority,’ where you said, ‘What we need to do to the oil and gas industry is to have the federal government bankrupt it so we can tackle climate change,” Mr. Kennedy told her.

When Mr. Brown asked whether she wants to bankrupt oil and gas companies, Ms. Omarova replied, “No, senator, I do not. That was poor phrasing.”

Ms. Omarova must now earn the support of every moderate Democrat to advance her nomination to an evenly divided Senate.

At least a few of these lawmakers, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, have not publicly pledged their support to the nominee.

Mr. Tester and Mr. Warner indicated that they took issue with Ms. Omarova’s opposition to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which they co-authored.

The banking legislation was signed into law in 2018. Mr. Warner called Ms. Omarova’s positions “pretty disappointing.”

Read rest at Washington Times

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