President Biden will nominate Michael Barr, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, to serve as the Federal Reserve’s top banking regulator, the White House said Friday, after Mr. Biden’s first pick for the job withdrew amid opposition from Republicans and a key Democratic senator.
If confirmed, Mr. Barr would serve as the Fed’s vice chairman for supervision, charged with overseeing the largest U.S. financial firms including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc.
Sarah Bloom Raskin, Mr. Biden’s first nominee for the job, withdrew from consideration last month. She took herself out of the running after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a key Democratic vote in the evenly divided chamber, said he couldn’t support Ms. Raskin’s nomination, citing her views on addressing climate change.
White House officials believe Mr. Barr can attract enough support to be confirmed, despite early opposition from some outside progressive groups. If every Republican senator opposes the nomination, Mr. Barr will need to secure the votes of every Senate Democrat, moderates and liberals alike.
Mr. Barr was assistant treasury secretary for financial institutions during the Obama administration. In that role, he helped craft the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, a broad overhaul of financial regulations that followed the 2007-09 financial crisis. He served in multiple roles during the Clinton administration, including special assistant to then-Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and deputy assistant Treasury secretary.
He is currently the dean of the University of Michigan’s public policy school.
Many Senate Republicans are likely to oppose Mr. Barr because of his role in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a Republican aide. Republicans and Wall Street firms have criticized the bureau as an instrument of runaway government regulation, with too much power over a significant slice of the economy. In 2009, Mr. Barr was confirmed to his role at the Treasury Department by a voice vote in the Senate without opposition.
Mr. Barr last year was a contender to be the Comptroller of the Currency, another top banking post, before skepticism from progressives stymied that bid. The eventual White House choice for that role, Saule Omarova, withdrew amid opposition from moderate Democrats. The agency remains without a Senate-confirmed leader.
Mr. Barr didn’t respond to requests for comment.