Senate panel votes to advance Trump pick to head consumer watchdog

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Banking Committee voted on Thursday to advance President Donald Trump’s pick to head the federal consumer watchdog despite criticism from Democratic senators.

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, a senior official in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), was approved on a 13-12 party-line vote to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She would replace Mick Mulvaney the OMB chief who is also serving as acting director at the agency since November.

Her nomination now advances to the full Senate, which has yet to schedule a confirmation vote.

The Senate seems likely to confirm Kraninger, but Democrats are continuing to press for details on the precise role she may have played in implementing the immigration policy that separated families.

In July, Kraninger told Congress that while she did attend meetings relating to the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, she did not play a role in setting or developing Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated more than 2,000 children from their parents.

Democratic Senators Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren have said Kraninger has not been sufficiently detailed in her answers. But it was unclear if that will be enough to discourage Republicans from supporting her.

“Kathy Kraninger was part of the Trump Administration’s effort to traumatize kids and rip them away from their families. She should be held accountable and fired — not promoted,” Warren told Reuters in an email on Wednesday.

Kraninger and the OMB did not respond to requests for comment.

Republicans said the agency, which is responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector, has overstepped its authority and hope Kraninger will continue to rein it in. Democrats and consumer advocates want to keep it from being further weakened.

The banking panel on Thursday also advanced the nomination of Elad Roisman, currently the committee’s chief counsel, to fill a Republican seat on the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The committee also voted to advance Dino Falaschetti as the new head of the Office of Financial Research. The administration has targeted the agency, which gathers data on financial markets, for drastic cuts and moved earlier this month to reduce staff by one-quarter..

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe