Weeks after accusing Democratic banking regulators with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation of attempting a “hostile takeover” of the agency, Republican FDIC Chairwoman Jelena McWilliams announced she is resigning.
McWilliams said in a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday that her departure is effective Feb. 4.
“When I immigrated to this country 30 years ago, I did so with a firm belief in the American system of government,” wrote McWilliams, who was born in Serbia. “During my tenure at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the United States Senate, and the FDIC, I have developed a deep appreciation for these venerable institutions and their traditions.
She added: “It has been a tremendous honor to serve this nation, and I did not take a single day for granted. Throughout my public service, I have been constantly reminded how blessed we are to live in the United States of America.”
McWilliams also noted some of the highlights of her tenure as chairwoman since being appointed to the position in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump.
“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,” she wrote. “Today, banks continue to maintain robust capital and liquidity levels to support lending and protect against potential losses.”
As The New York Times reported, McWilliams largely stuck to Republican ideology, meaning her positions often stood at odds with those of Democrats on the board, especially with Biden attempting to implement his policy agenda.
Things came to a head last month, according to Politico: “The Democratic majority on the FDIC’s board voted to take public feedback on potential changes to the agency’s bank merger approval process,” the outlet reported.
“McWilliams did not participate in the vote, and the FDIC in an official statement said the action was not valid,” Politico added. “A legal debate ensued over whether a majority of the board can put items up for a vote without the consent of the chair, with Democrats maintaining they had clear authority.
“At a Dec. 14 board meeting, McWilliams rejected a bid by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra — an FDIC board member and ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) — to add a record of the vote to the FDIC’s official minutes,” the outlet said.
In response, McWilliams published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal accusing Democratic regulators of attempting a “hostile takeover” of the agency.
“Of the 20 chairmen who preceded me at the FDIC, nine faced a majority of the board members from the opposing party, including Mr. Gruenberg as chairman under President Trump until I replaced him as chairman in 2018,” she wrote. “Never before has a majority of the board attempted to circumvent the chairman to pursue their own agenda.”
McWilliams added: “This conflict isn’t about bank mergers. If it were, board members would have been willing to work with me and the FDIC staff rather than attempt a hostile takeover of the FDIC internal processes, staff and board agenda.”
FDIC board member Martin Gruenberg, who led the agency under former President Barack Obama, is set to become acting FDIC chair.