Senate panel OKs Trump’s nominee for consumer watchdog
Washington – The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday approved Kathy Kraninger as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as Republicans overlooked the protests of Democrats who said President Donald Trump’s nominee is unqualified to lead the consumer watchdog.
Kraninger’s nomination received approval in a 13-12 party-line vote. The nomination now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
Kraninger, currently a mid-level executive in the Office of Management and Budget, was an unknown before Trump’s nomination. She works directly under Mick Mulvaney, who is both Trump’s budget director and has been acting director of the CFPB since late November.
Mulvaney has moved to roll back many of the rules and regulations established by the CFPB, which was formed in the wake of the financial crisis. Kraninger has given little guidance on how she plans to run the bureau, but she’s expected to operate the bureau similarly to Mulvaney.
“Will Kathy Kraninger stand up against powerful special interests and fight for service members, students and seniors that need a champion? Unfortunately, the answer is no,” said Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nevada.
Democrats tried to derail Kraninger’s nomination by focusing on her work in the White House’s budget office, where she handled the budgets for the Department of Homeland Security and several other large agencies. DHS was the department in charge of the policy to separate children from their parents at the border and the recovery from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Republicans argued that Kraninger, as a mid-level bureaucrat, had little to do with those policy decisions and she should be instead judged on her ability as a manager.
The CFPB has been a source of political controversy since its creation. Republicans see the CFPB has an unaccountable federal agency that has too much independence and power and should be reined in, while Democrats say consumers need an agency that stands up to big banks and payday lenders and it must be independent in order to make tough decisions.
“The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection was the most polarizing part of Dodd-Frank and it is not surprising that the confirmation votes of Richard Cordray and now Kathy Kraninger are contentious,” said Senator Mike Crapo, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
A far-less contentious nomination was Trump’s choice to be president of the Export-Import Bank, Kimberly Reed. Her nomination received unanimous approval from the committee.
Ken Sweet covers banks, payday lenders and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @kensweet.