On September 20, the White House announced President Biden’s intent to nominate two Republicans, Travis Hill and Jonathan McKernan, to the FDIC Board. It has also been reported that President Biden will nominate a permanent Chair to the FDIC shortly. What is unclear is whether that nominee will be current Acting Chair Martin Gruenberg, or someone new.
Mr. Hill, who served as a principal aide to former FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams, has been designated as the Vice Chair nominee. He also previously served as a staffer on the Senate Banking Committee. Mr. McKernan is currently a Senior Counsel at the FHFA, but is on detail to the Senate Banking Committee Republican staff.
The FDIC’s Board of Directors comprises five members. Under the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (“FDI Act”), no more than three members of the Board can be in the same political party. The FDI Act also calls for the Director of the CFPB and the Comptroller of the Currency to be members of the FDIC Board. Thus, generally, the Chair of the FDIC, the Comptroller and the CFPB Director are members of the President’s party, and the Vice Chair and one other member are members of the other party.
Whomever the President chooses to nominate as FDIC Chair, it is likely that the Chair’s nomination will be “packaged” together with the nominations of Messrs. Hill and McKernan. Acting Chair Gruenberg’s term as an FDIC Board member is expired, but he can serve until a successor is confirmed. If Mr. Hill is confirmed as Vice Chair, but the President’s choice to be Chair is not confirmed, Mr. Hill would become Acting Chair of the FDIC Board per the FDI Act.