On Thursday, July 19, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing confirmation hearing for President Trump’s nominee to become the new director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB), Kathy Kraninger. The CFPB is responsible for overseeing consumer protections in the financial sector and has jurisdiction includes banks, credit unions, mortgage servicers, foreclosure relief companies, and debt collectors operating in the U.S. If confirmed by the Senate, Kraninger would hold significant sway over the way those companies manage mortgages, credit cards, payday loans and other financial products they offer to customers. Click here to read our coverage of the hearing.
At issue in this hearing is the fundamental disagreement the Administration has with the agency’s underlying constitutionality. The current acting director, Mick Mulvaney, has decried what he considers to be a lack of accountability in the structure of the agency. Kraninger, hand-picked by Mulvaney to take over largely shares his views and promised in the confirmation hearing to continue the more pro-business shift at the agency that started under Mulvaney’s time as Acting Director.
If confirmed, Kraninger would serve a five-year term. In laying out her priorities, Kraninger stated she would use cost-benefit analysis to measure the price tag of regulations to industries and continue to go after bad industry behavior.
When pressed on the agency’s payday loan rule and her thoughts on whether or not the agency should repeal it, Kraninger only stated, “While I will not prejudge and cannot predict every decision that will come before me as director, if confirmed, I can assure you that I will focus solely on serving the American people.”
Senate Republicans who have expressed similar concerns to Mick Mulvaney about the agency and expressed support the nominee during the hearing proceedings. Questions from the panel’s Republican members largely focused on increasing transparency and accountability within the CFPB.
Senate Democrats who back the consumer protection actions taken under the previous director, Richard Cordray, took issue with Kraninger’s lack of experience with the agency, consumer protection issues or the financial services sector. Previously, she served at the White House Office of Management and Budget and helped craft President Trump’s 2019 budget plan, which called for cutting the CFPB’s budget and restricting its enforcement oversight.
Senator Donnelly (D-Ind.) sits on the panel and questioned Kraninger about student loan debt and the agency's recent decision to eliminate student loan office focused on loan abuses, which has returned $750 million in relief since its inception, and refocusing those responsibilities on "financial education." Donnelly stated that Hoosier students graduate with an average of $29,000 in debt and underlined the importance of that office. When asked her position on this action, Kraninger pointed to the fact the that CFPB still had an ombudsman for private student loans and she would be talking to that staff on student loan issues.
Donnelly also asked if she agreed with Mick Mulvaney's previous comments in referring to the CFPB as a "joke" and she said she would not have used those words and would support Bureau's mission, "as passed by Congress."
The full Senate is expected to vote soon on this nomination and Kraninger is expected to be confirmed as Republicans hold the majority of seats.