FDIC chairman’s seat fills out Trump-named leadership – but more seats remain open

With the swearing in Tuesday of Jelena McWilliams as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Board, all five of the federal financial institution regulators are now headed by a Donald Trump appointee.

But five more seats on the various boards of regulators still need to be filled, including at the credit union regulator (two), the central bank (four), and the federal deposit insurer (one). And, as of Tuesday, the “acting” director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP, formerly the CFPB) has 17 days left in his appointment — unless the White House makes a move to nominate a successor.

McWilliams, confirmed May 24 by the Senate as FDIC chairman, is the fifth, and final, of the financial institution regulator leaders appointed by President Donald Trump since he took office in January 2017.

The process of empaneling the chief regulators – at the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), BCFP  and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve) – began soon after Trump was sworn in and continued through McWilliams’ swearing-in Tuesday.

Mark McWatters, named acting chairman of the NCUA Board in January (and, in June 2017, permanent chairman), was the first of Trump’s appointments. No Senate confirmation is required for the NCUA chairman position. McWatters was already serving on the board at the time of his appointment (as vice chairman) and has been a board member since 2014. Since then, McWatters has been rumored to be a candidate to serve as director of the CFPB (although no intent to nominate, or outright nomination, has been announced by the White House). McWatters’ term on the NCUA Board runs to 2019.

The McWatters appointment was followed by selection in May of last year by the president of Keith Noreika, a Washington attorney, to lead the OCC in an acting capacity. By last fall, however, Trump nominated Joseph Otting, a former banker and business associate of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to be Comptroller. Otting was confirmed by the Senate in November and sworn in late that month.

Before Otting could be sworn in, however, Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to be CFPB director (also in late November). Trump made the appointment to fill the vacancy created with the departure of Richard Cordray, who resigned.

However, Mulvaney’s appointment (made under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (FVRA)), ends June 22, if no one else is nominated by the president to take his place. June 22 is six months since Mulvaney was tapped for the job, the time period under which FVRA allows an “acting” appointment to stay in office.

But, he could stay longer: Under the FVRA, an acting officer appointed by the president under that provision serves “subject to the time limitations” spelled out in the law. Those include that an appointee may serve “for no longer than 210 days beginning on the date the vacancy occurs,” or, “subject to subsection (b), once a first or second nomination for the office is submitted to the Senate, from the date of such nomination for the period that the nomination is pending in the Senate.”

Fourth to be appointed by the president was Jerome H. “Jay” Powell as Federal Reserve Board chairman. Nominated in November, he was confirmed for the position by the Senate in late January.

McWilliams rounded out the leadership group.

But there is more work is ahead for the administration in filling regulatory agency slots.

At the credit union regulator, one of the three board seats is unfilled – and another is filled now by Board Member Rick Metsger, whose term officially ended in August of last year. He may remain in the seat until a new member is confirmed by the Senate. No nomination for either board seat has been made by the administration.

At the Federal Reserve, four board seats are now open – three nominations have been made by the president to fill seats.

In April, the nominations of Richard Clarida and Michelle Bowman to complete unexpired terms on the Federal Reserve Board (that continue through Jan. 31, 2022, and Jan. 31, 2020), were approved by the Senate Banking Committee and sent to the Senate for confirmation. Votes are not yet scheduled.

Marvin Goodfriend, nominated late last year, was approved narrowly by the Senate Banking Committee in February on a party line vote of 13-12. No date has been announced by the Senate for consideration of his confirmation.

At the FDIC, one “internal director” seat is now open on the board (the Comptroller of the Currency and the CFPB director also have seats on the five-person board). The vice chairman’s slot (which takes one of the seats on the board) is also open. The White House has not yet made nominations for either.

Gruenberg’s term on the FDIC Board ends in December.

Leadership, board members at the federal financial institution regulators/terms, background, more