WASHINGTON — Consumer lending experts urged a Senate panel on Tuesday to confirm a director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this week.

The Senate Banking Committee's subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer protection held the hearing — on middle class wealth building in an age of growing household debt — just days before the full committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination Richard Corday to be the bureau's first director.

Although the witnesses talked about the wealth gap and discriminatory lending practices, the subtext of the hearing and the issue on everyone's mind was the CFPB. In particular, they said the bureau's powers are limited until a director is in place.

"There are abuses going on that need to be curtailed," said Douglas Fecher, the president and chief executive of Wright-Patterson Federal Credit Union in Fairborn, Ohio. "We have a branch near a pawn shop and a payday lender, and the only one that is regulated is us. The CFPB needs to address that fact."

The committee will vote on Cordray's nomination on Thursday.

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