Trump nominates a top bank regulator as Biden starts transition

Mr Donald Trump's highly unusual move has been blasted by Democratic lawmakers. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump formally nominated Mr Brian Brooks to take over a key banking regulator, potentially forcing Joe Biden to fire him after the president-elect is sworn in.

In a brief Friday (Nov 27) statement, the White House said it had sent the nomination to the Senate, where Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo has already signalled that Mr Brooks would get a confirmation hearing for a five-year term leading the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Mr Brooks has been acting OCC chief since May.

Mr Trump's highly unusual move to try to install an industry friendly watchdog at the end of his administration has been blasted by Democratic lawmakers, who argue the president is refusing to accept the results of this month's election.

If Mr Crapo, an Idaho Republican, succeeds in fast-tracking Mr Brook's confirmation, Mr Biden would then have to decide whether to remove him after the Jan 20 inauguration. While the law indicates Mr Biden can oust Mr Brooks, such authority has never been used before. Mr Biden's acting Treasury Secretary could immediately remove Mr Brooks if he fails to win Senate approval.

Most of the major regulations for US banks are written and approved in collaboration among the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and the OCC.

Because Mr Trump appointees are expected to continue running the other two agencies for a time, the OCC is thought to be in a key position to begin implementing Mr Biden's agenda for banks.

Mr Brooks is racing to finish a rule that would prohibit banks from refusing to lend to businesses that carry political risks, such as borrowers tied to oil exploration, firearms and private prisons.

The proposal's public-comment period ends Jan 4, giving Mr Brooks just days to finalise the regulation before Mr Biden's inauguration.

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