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Saule Omarova listens during her confirmation hearing. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Five Democratic senators have told the White House they won't support Saule Omarova to head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, effectively killing her nomination for the powerful bank-regulator position.

Why it matters: The defiant opposition from a broad coalition of senators reflects the real policy concerns they had with Omarova, a Cornell University law professor who's attracted controversy for her academic writings about hemming in big banks.

  • Their opposition also hints at a willingness of some Democratic senators to buck the White House on an important nomination, even if it hands Republicans a political — and symbolic — victory.
  • Republicans have attacked the Kazakh-born scholar in remarkably personal terms, and turned her nomination into a proxy battle over how banks should be regulated.

Driving the news: In phone call on Wednesday, Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), all members of the Senate Banking Committee, told Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) — the panel's chairman — of their opposition.

  • They're joined in opposing her by Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).
  • The five senators' offices either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: Biden officials also have heard directly from the senators. They're aware of their deep opposition and know Omarova faces nearly impossible odds for confirmation.

  • Still, they continue to back her publicly.
  • "The White House continues to strongly support her historic nomination," a White House official told Axios.
  • "Saule Omarova is eminently qualified for this position," the official said. "She has been treated unfairly since her nomination with unacceptable red-baiting from Republicans like it’s the McCarthy era."

Omarova tried to salvage her candidacy during a hearing last week, where Republicans savaged her for her previous academic writings about how community banks should be regulated.

  • Her nomination, reflected in an ugly hearing in which Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) questioned whether he should call the native of the former Soviet Union "professor" or "comrade," became a proxy battle.
  • It split between the banking industry and progressives eager to impose more regulation on it.
  • "The OCC charters, regulates and supervises all national banks and federal savings associations, as well as federal branches and agencies of foreign banks," it says on its website.

The big picture: Now that the president has stared down progressives by renominating Jerome Powell for another term as chairman of the Federal Reserve, ideological fights between centrists and progressives about economic appointments are going to become more pronounced.

  • Progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have already indicated they'll work to oppose Powell.
  • Warren does support another Biden move, elevating Fed governor Lael Brainard to the vice-chair position.
  • With centrists like Tester getting their preferred Fed candidate nominated for a second term, they may feel more emboldened to challenge the White House on lower-level nominations.

Go deeper

Biden nominates Shalanda Young as budget director

Office of Management and Budget acting director Shalanda Young during a Senate hearing in June 2021. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday nominated Shalanda Young to head the Office of Management and Budget permanently. She has served as acting director since March.

Why it matters: If confirmed by the Senate, Young would be the first Black woman to permanently lead the office, which has gone without a confirmed director for months after Biden's first nominee, Neera Tanden, withdrew her nomination because of opposition from several senators from both parties.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life. The 11 charges she faces have been widely criticised as politically motivated.

5 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"