December 6, 2018 / 8:35 PM / 11 days ago

Senate confirms Trump's consumer watchdog pick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate voted 50-49 on Thursday to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. consumer watchdog despite opposition from Democrats and consumer groups who say she is unqualified.

FILE PHOTO: Kathleen Laura Kraninger testifies before a Senate Banking Committee hearing on her nomination to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2018. REUTERS/Alex Wroblewski/File Photo

Kathy Kraninger will serve as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), replacing acting chief Mick Mulvaney, after Trump signs a declaration approving her five-year term.

The banking industry and consumer groups will be watching to see whether Kraninger, who is currently a senior official at the White House budget office, will take on Mulvaney’s mantle and continue to aggressively curtail the CFPB’s enforcement and rule-writing agenda.

Kraninger faced criticism during her nomination hearing in July about the role she played in the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that separated more than 2,000 children from their parents.

Kraninger, who works closely with Mulvaney at the Office of Management and Budget, has denied having a role in setting or developing that policy but said she attended meetings relating to its implementation.

The CFPB was formed in 2011 under Democratic President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 financial crisis to protect ordinary Americans from predatory lending.

Democrats say the agency plays a critical role in protecting consumers, but Republicans have repeatedly criticized the CFPB as heavy-handed and overreaching.

“The Senate majority has endorsed for CFPB a 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,” Lisa Donner, who heads the consumer advocacy group, Americans for Financial Reform, said in a statement.

Industry groups said on Thursday, however, that Kraninger’s strong managerial experience at the budget office where she manages the budget for the financial regulators made her a good fit for the agency.

“We learned during her nomination hearing that she believes in promoting competition and appropriately tailoring regulations by taking into account both costs and benefits,” Rob Nichols, president and chief executive of the American Bankers Association, said in a statement.

“We share those views, and believe those principles will benefit consumers.”

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Michelle Price and Peter Cooney

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