Senate approves Trump’s chief for key consumer watchdog agency

December 6, 2018

The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Kathleen Kraninger as the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, overcoming the vehement objections of Democrats and giving President Trump another reliable ally at the helm of a top Wall Street cop.

Ms. Kraninger has pledged to stay the course set by Mick Mulvaney, who’d been acting director for the last year, and set about imposing limits on the powerful independent watchdog.

She was confirmed on a 50-49 vote.

“Kathy Kraninger’s confirmation is a significant victory for consumers everywhere,” said Gerard Scimeca, vice president of Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, a free-market consumer group

The CFPB was the highest-profile change Congress made after the 2008 Wall Street collapse, creating the new bureau with an independent director and budget and charging it with policing consumer abuses by banks and other major financial dealers.

But with such a powerful chairman, battles over leadership of the agency have been prolonged and particularly nasty.

Ms. Kraninger’s confirmation angered progressive activists who said it confirmed the CFPB’s retreat from the forefront of policing Wall Street.

“Why did Republican Senators prioritize Kathy Kraninger’s confirmation during this lame-duck session of Congress when there are still so many unanswered questions about her qualifications and record? Political payback, plain and simple,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress. “More than anything, they do not want someone leading the CFPB who will aggressively protect the interests of consumers from the likes of Wells Fargo, Equifax, payday lenders, and other financial bad actors.”

Ms. Kraninger is just the second person confirmed to the five-year job.

The first director, picked by President Obama, was subject to long delays and a major constitutional challenge over the president’s recess appointment powers. Richard Cordray eventually won confirmation in 2013 but he left the job last year, and tried to install his own hand-picked successor to block Mr. Trump.

The president instead used his powers under the Vacancies Reform Act to name his own pick, Mr. Mulvaney.

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