McHenry criticizes FDIC head for 'overconfidence' in attending hearing despite calls to resign

Embattled Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg took the stand before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday morning following a scathing report on widespread sexual harassment and discrimination at his agency.

“Showing up today is not an act of courage. It is an act of hubris,” Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), chairman of the Financial Services panel, told Gruenberg. McHenry and numerous other Republicans have called for Gruenberg's resignation.

Gruenberg has been under pressure for months after The Wall Street Journal published a bombshell report last year documenting a culture of sexual harassment, misconduct and retaliation at the top banking regulator. A report released last week by law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton confirmed the Journal's findings and revealed stunning cases of inappropriate behavior.

Democrats are divided over whether Gruenberg should resign. Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) accused Cleary Gottlieb of political bias, focusing on Gruenberg and not the agency's Republican leaders.

“The report appeared to downplay workplace concerns and harassment complaints that occurred under the leadership of the Republican organization,” Waters said.

However, a growing number of Democrats indicated at Wednesday's hearing that it was time for Gruenberg to move on.

'You're on a short leash. A lot of people here would like to see you gone, to be honest. I'm not sure if you're the guy making the changes, but maybe you are. Maybe you can prove that to us. I don't know, I don't know,” Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) told Gruenberg.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said he had difficulty portraying Gruenberg as the right person to clean up the FDIC and its culture of retaliatory harassment.

“I'm tripping over the 'I'm the right guy to fix this' thing,” he said.

Rep. Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.) said he could only describe himself as “pissed off” by the report.

“If I have to be honest, I'm pissed. I heard people talking about it [being] angry, shocked, but I'm pissed off – that's my language, where I come from,” he said.

The scolding came as Gruenberg appeared for a hearing alongside other top bank regulators as they mull a series of new rules.

A series of major banking reforms, known as the Basel III endgame, are now being implemented by financial regulators at the FDIC, the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Monet, although the Fed and some lawmakers have called for an alternative proposal from the Bank. international banking plan that would require an increase in capital requirements.

“On the issue of Basel III, I want to make clear my current position that the fundamentally flawed proposal should be scrapped and, at most, re-proposed if warranted,” said Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), chairman of the subcommittee on financial institutions.

Updated at 11:14 PM EDT.

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