The discourse surrounding President Biden's nominee to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency grew even more contentious on Thursday, after Senate Republicans seemingly attempted to paint the Soviet-born Saule Omarova as a radical, The Associated Press reports.
During a confirmation hearing with the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee, multiple lawmakers went after Omarova, who, if appointed, would be the first woman and person of color to run the 158-year-old agency, per AP. All Senate Republicans oppose her nomination, and it appears two Democratic moderates — namely Sens. Jon Tester (Mt.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) — are still wary.
"Taken in totality, her ideas do amount to a socialist manifesto for American financial services," said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) on Thursday. Omarova was born in the Soviet Union; now a U.S. citizen, she has strongly denied holding any communist views, per NPR.
GOP Sen. John Kennedy (La.) pressed Omarova himself, demanding she share more regarding her membership in group "the Young Communists" (a mandated youth program in the Soviet Union, Omarova said), adding he did not know whether to call her "professor or comrade." Some gasps followed.
The Cornell University professor explained she is not a communist, nor does she "subscribe to that ideology." "I could not choose where I was born," she said.
Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) later defended Omarova, calling the attacks on her nomination from both bank lobbies and their "Republican buddies" "vicious and personal. We've just seen them."
"Sexism, racism, pages straight out of Joe McCarthy's 1950s Red Scare tactics," said Warren. "It is all there on full display. Welcome to Washington in 2021."