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Senate committee to hear from next generation of regulators

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The Senate Banking Committee will get to question President Obama's nominees for top regulatory positions Tuesday. Martin Gruenberg was picked to become the next chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and would follow Sheila Bair. He served as the vice chairman of the FDIC board since August 2005 and as acting chairman since Bair finished her term July 8. Thomas Curry is the candidate to run the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. He served on the FDIC board since January 2004. He would replace John Walsh who has led the bank regulator since August. S. Roy Woodall, a former Treasury Department official and insurance commissioner for the state of Kentucky, was selected to become a member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council. Created under the Dodd-Frank Act, the FSOC will monitor the financial system and theoretically head off any threats. Each candidate heads into an office steeped in controversy and challenges. Gruenberg would take up the effort of returning the Deposit Insurance Fund to a positive level, which the FDIC announced earlier in the year could happen by the end 2011, as bank failures come off of the peak of last year. Curry would step into the middle of the robo-signing controversy that has plagued the housing market since last fall. Under Walsh, the OCC and other regulators signed consent orders with several servicers, requiring changes to how foreclosure operations and oversight is handled. These regulators are also attempting to align the requirements with the 50 state attorneys general investigation. The OCC is also busy welcoming more than 600 employees from the Office of Thrift Supervision as the two agencies merged Thursday. Woodall would join a committee with an uncertain amount of power. FSOC will oversee the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and hold veto power over any rules the committee deems systemically threatening. But Republicans complain FSOC would need such a large majority, the power is almost negligible and Congress is currently in a standoff over how or if the new entities should be restructured. Still, Senate Banking Committee Chair Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) praised each nominee, while ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said recently he "looks forward to the debate." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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