Christy Goldsmith Romero Nominated to be Next FDIC Chair - The World News

Christy Goldsmith Romero Nominated to be Next FDIC Chair

Christy Goldsmith Romero, a lawyer who spent more than a decade rooting out fraud and other bad behavior at banks that received federal aid in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, has been chosen to be the next leader of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the White House announced on Thursday.

Her pick is the first step in President Biden’s quest to quickly replace the current chair, Martin Gruenberg, the bank regulator’s longtime leader who said last month that he would resign in response to reports of vast workplace abuse and harassment at the agency. If the Senate Banking Committee acts quickly to hold a hearing and a vote on Ms. Goldsmith Romero’s candidacy, she has a chance of assuming the role before the presidential election in November.

Ms. Goldsmith Romero did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Her path to the job is far from certain. Ms. Goldsmith Romero, who is a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, has been unanimously confirmed by the Senate twice, but her next confirmation process is already shaping up to be very different. Even before the White House announced her nomination on Thursday, Republicans appeared to be gearing up to oppose her.

Representative Andy Barr of Kentucky, a Republican on the House Financial Services Committee who will not have a say in the confirmation because he is not a member of the Senate, was the first to criticize her candidacy. In a statement emailed to reporters on Thursday, Mr. Barr called the choice “reckless” and said that Ms. Goldsmith Romero was not qualified to lead the bank regulator.

“Our financial institutions deserve a leader with substantial, direct experience in banking, not a politicized choice whose background is misaligned with the demands of this role,” Mr. Barr said.

The bulk of Ms. Goldsmith Romero’s work with banks has been in her role as special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the roughly $450 billion operation put in place to stabilize the banking industry after the financial crisis. Ms. Goldsmith Romero and her staff investigated how banks were using their aid funds and whether they were following rules on home foreclosures and other consumer relief efforts related to the bailout.

Officials in the Biden administration see her work as especially important for the top F.D.I.C. job given the current state of the regulator, where reports by The Wall Street Journal and an outside law firm have described as having a widespread culture of harassment and abuse by senior managers against women and junior employees. Leaders in the Senate, including Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio and the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, declared Mr. Gruenberg unfit for the role of rooting out the abuse and improving the agency’s culture and its employees’ morale.

If she is confirmed, Ms. Goldsmith Romero would be the first person in roughly 20 years who got the job without first serving as an aide in the Senate working on banking issues, a role viewed by some members of the banking industry as essential for developing a deep familiarity with bank regulatory policy. Mr. Gruenberg was a senior counsel on the banking committee’s staff for more than a decade before he joined the agency. And its most recent Republican chair, Jelena McWilliams, was also a staff member on the committee.

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