At least half dozen seats on regulator boards open for nominations in new year

By the Senate’s failure to confirm three nominees for seats on federal financial institution regulator boards before adjourning, the White House now faces at least a half dozen open board seats among three regulatory agencies that must be filled by a presidential nominee.

On Wednesday – in likely its final substantive act – the Senate of the 115th Congress confirmed 77 nominations by voice vote. However, none of those confirmations were for the three nominees for seats on regulatory boards at the Federal Reserve (two seats) and the National Credit Union Administration (one seat).

In the 116th Congress, President Donald Trump will now have at least six nominations to make – including for the seats passed over by the Senate. Trump can either choose to resubmit the nominations or come up with some new names.

In any event, the seats that are open include:

Federal Reserve, two seats: The nominations of Marvin Goodfriend and Nellie Jean Liang – which were pending before the Senate, but which the Senate chose not to address – would have filled the last two seats open on the seven-member board. Additionally, it would have meant Trump had appointed all but one of the governors of the Federal Reserve Board (Gov. Lael Brainard was appointed by President Barack Obama). In addition, Trump has been critical of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome H. (“Jay”) Powell, even reportedly looking into how (or if) the president can fire or demote the chairman.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), two seats: The seat for vice chairman of the FDIC Board of Directors remains open after Thomas M. Hoenig completed his term in April 2018 (after he served a full six-year term) and left the board. The White House never made a nomination for the seat last year. Meanwhile, the six-year term of FDIC Board Member Martin J. Gruenberg (a former chairman and vice chairman of the board) officially ended in December. However, Gruenberg remains on the board as a holdover until he either resigns or the Senate confirms a successor. The seat occupied by Gruenberg, and the vice chairman’s seat, are both “appointive” positions on the five-member board, along with that of FDIC Board Chairman Jelena McWilliams. The other two seats are occupied (by law) by the Comptroller of the Currency (now Joseph M. Otting), and director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Kathleen Kraninger.

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), two seats: The return of Rodney Hood’s nomination to the president to fill a Republican-appointive seat on the NCUA Board effectively means two seats on the three-member board are available to be filled. The seat that Hood was nominated to fill is now held by Democrat Rick Metsger, whose term officially ended in August 2017 (but who has stayed in office as a holdover as he awaited his successor to be confirmed). Meanwhile, a second seat on the board remains open as well – that formerly held by Democrat (and former Chairman) Debbie Matz, who left office in 2016. Trump never made a nomination for that seat. The White House now must determine whether to resubmit Hood’s nomination and another name for the seat previously held by Matz, name two new candidates, or do nothing. In the meantime, the term of current NCUA Board Chairman J. Mark McWatters (a Republican) officially runs out in August.

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