Senate confirms choice of Biden to lead consumer watchdog


WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate narrowly approved President Joe Biden‘s choice to lead the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection on Thursday, giving the office a manager who could take on an aggressive ‘watchdog’ role, similar to the way the agency operated under former President Barack. Obama.

Rohit Chopra’s nomination was approved at 50-48, with Vice President Kamala Harris previously expected to vote to break the debate. The Republicans were united against Chopra.

Prior to his approval, Chopra held one of the Democratic seats on the Federal Trade Commission, often using his position to publicly advocate for tougher sanctions and enforcement against companies found guilty of wrongdoing. A then GOP-controlled Senate unanimously confirmed Chopra as FTC commissioner in 2018, a point made by Democrats during debates over his nomination when it became clear that no Republican would vote for. approve it this time.

Chopra, 39, was there at the start of the office, hired by Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren to help launch the office. He held several senior positions at CFPB during the Obama administration, including the most senior position in handling student loan issues.

“He is a tremendous consumer champion and will be a fearless leader of the Bureau. Let’s get to work! Warren, now Democrat in the Massachusetts US Senate, said on Twitter after being confirmed.

Chopra is the third permanent director of the CFPB since the office was created by the Dodd-Frank Act, the law passed after the 2008 financial crisis that shook the entire banking and financial system. Kathy Kraninger, who was former President Donald Trump‘s choice to head the office, was asked to step down by Biden on the first day of his tenure.

During the Trump administration, the CFPB dramatically reduced its enforcement measures, both in number and size, and relegated concerns, such as fair loans, to a much smaller position within the office. . This was in stark contrast to the way the office was run under the Obama administration, when it aggressively collected fines from banks and credit card companies and paid out billions of dollars in damages to borrowers.

Biden’s choice for CFPB interim director Dave Uejio used his position to strongly bring the office back to its original mission. In an email to office workers sent shortly after Chopra’s confirmation, Uejio said he expects Chopra to start work next weekend once he resigns his position at the FTC.

Chopra has said his first goal as a director will be the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of Americans now face evictions and potential foreclosures due to job losses caused by the pandemic.

Uejio used some of his powers – particularly the role of the supervisory office for debt collectors and mortgage officers – to keep as many people in their homes as possible. But Uejio’s efforts were limited by his temporary role in the office.

He also said during his confirmation hearing that he viewed privacy concerns and the way banks use algorithms to determine how to lend, as other areas he could focus on as a director.

Republicans have long harbored ideological opposition to the CFPB, because of its one-director structure and because it is funded by the Federal Reserve instead of the traditional Congressional appropriation process. This criticism died down somewhat when Kraninger led the office due to his more business-friendly approach.

“I am seriously concerned that Commissioner Chopra is referring the CFPB to the faithless, overbreadth and highly politicized agency that it was under the Obama administration,” said Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, the Republican. prominent on the Senate Banking Committee, during his speech against the candidacy.

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