After McWilliams’ resignation letter, no word from FDIC, White House on what lies ahead for leadership

Three days after the announcement of the resignation of its board chairman, effective in February, the federal bank deposit insurer was silent on what lies ahead for the leadership of the agency.

Also silent: The White House, which received a letter from Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Chairman Jelena McWilliams on New Year’s Eve that she had resigned, effective Feb. 4.

In her letter, McWilliams gave no indication why she was resigning now, three-and-a-half years into her five-year term (she was nominated by President Donald Trump [R] in December 2017 and confirmed by the Senate in late May 2018).

“Throughout my tenure, the agency has focused on its fundamental mission to maintain and instill confidence in our banking system while at the same time promoting innovation, strengthening financial inclusion, improving transparency, and supporting community banks and minority depository institutions, including through the creation of the Mission Driven Bank Fund,” McWilliams wrote in her resignation letter to President Joe Biden (D).

McWilliams noted that it has been a “a tremendous honor to serve this nation” and that she “did not take a single day for granted” during her service.

McWilliams’ resignation will leave the FDIC Board with only one appointed member, holdover board member and former chairman Martin Gruenberg (a Democratic appointee). His own five-year term on the board expired in December 2018; he has been serving in the absence of a successor being confirmed by the Senate. Neither Biden, nor Trump before him, nominated a successor.

The other appointed seat on the board, that of vice chairman, has been vacant since April 2018. It was filled by Thomas Hoenig, whose term expired; he had served since November 2012.

The other seats on the five-person board are held, by statute, by the leaders of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Chairman Rohit Chopra; and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Acting Comptroller Michael Hsu. Both are Democratic appointees.

The White House may be facing a quandary about how to fill out the membership of the FDIC Board. Under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA), not more than three of the five members of the board of directors may be members of the same political party. That would seem to indicate that, whomever the president chooses to fill the now-two open seats, both would have to be Republican appointees.

FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams Announces Her Resignation

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