Senate committee votes in favor of Biden pick to lead SEC, split on CFPB nominee

FILE PHOTO: Gary Gensler testifies at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday voted in favor of President Joe Biden’s pick to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission, but was tied when it came to approving his nominee to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

With a 14-10 vote, Gary Gensler’s nomination moved out of the committee with a favorable recommendation to a full Senate vote. The committee was split 12-12 on Rohit Chopra, Biden’s pick to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB.

Both nominees had been broadly expected to be confirmed to their spots. Chopra was unanimously confirmed in 2018 to be a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission. Still, both faced scrutiny during their nomination hearing last week from Republican lawmakers, who have said both may be divisive if confirmed.

Progressives see both financial regulators as key to advancing policy directives around climate change and racial justice. The CFPB has been a political lightning rod since it was created following the 2009 financial crisis, beloved by Democrats as a guardian of ordinary Americans but reviled by Republicans as too powerful and unaccountable.

On Wednesday, Republican Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania cited Chopra’s previous work at CFPB as a reason for voting against him.

Chopra is still likely to be considered in a full vote. Earlier this year, Democratic and Republican leaders reached an agreement on power-sharing in light of the split Senate, which Democrats narrowly control.

Reporting by Chris Prentice; editing by Jonathan Oatis