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WASHINGTON — Kathy Kraninger, a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget, was confirmed by the Senate Thursday to serve as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, following a tumultuous year for the agency under acting Director Mick Mulvaney.
The nomination was barely approved, passing the chamber 50-49 after Democrats strongly opposed Kraninger due to concerns she lacked any experience in consumer finance. Progressive lawmakers also argue Kraninger was partly responsible for the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating migrant children from their families at the border. (Sen. Tom Tillis, R-N.C., was the sole senator not to vote.)
Republicans, on the other hand, cited her management experience in their support of the nomination.
“Ms. Kraninger brings a wealth of experience to an agency in need of a renewed, consumer-focused mission,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in a press release before the vote.
Mulvaney, who also serves as head of OMB where Kraninger works, applauded the nomination.
“Kathy is going to be an absolutely tremendous leader here,” Mulvaney said during a conference call Thursday with the bureau’s consumer advisory boards. “The transition will be about as seamless as it could possibly be. While she has a different style than I do and different priorities … the transition will be seamless.”
Mulvaney said he had no role in Kraninger’s selection and that she was picked by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council.
Consumer groups sharply criticized the nomination over concerns she will continue Mulvaney’s agenda to pare back the agency’s enforcement and rulemaking.
“The Senate majority has endorsed a CFPB nominee indistinguishable from Mick Mulvaney, who has done his level best to dismantle from within an agency that once won real results for American families hurt by Wall Street and predatory lenders,” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform. “Kraninger has no track record at all of consumer protection, or of standing up for vulnerable people.”
But industry groups were supportive. American Bankers Association President Rob Nichols applauded the Senate’s confirmation of Kraninger, suggesting she will support efforts to tailor regulations.
“We learned during her nomination hearing that she believes in promoting competition and appropriately tailoring regulations by taking into account both costs and benefits,” Nichols said in a press release. “We share those views, and believe those principles will benefit consumers while allowing banks to better serve their customers and innovate.”