Senate Banking advances CFPB nominee over Dem objections

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WASHINGTON — The Senate Banking Committee approved the nominations of several Trump administration officials to top banking and finance posts.

The banking panel voted down party lines, 13-12, to advance the nomination of Kathy Kraninger to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But Kraninger's nomination drew criticism from Senate Democrats, with several making statements opposing her confirmation ahead of the vote. Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Jon Tester of Montana all spoke out against Kraninger, citing her past work and her lack of experience in consumer finance.

The Democrats pointed to her involvement at the Office of Management and Budget in the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the zero-tolerance immigration policy that separated children at the southern border from their parents.

Warren, the CFPB’s architect, criticized Kraninger’s “sole claim” that she is qualified to head the agency because of her management experience without answering questions about her involvement in controversial administrative efforts.

“Either she wasn’t involved in child separations or the failed Puerto Rico recovery, which means she doesn’t have the management experience that she claims to have, or she was involved, which means the Senate would be voting to promote someone who is responsible for two of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent history,” Warren said.

Brown, the committee’s ranking Democrat, noted that unlike the five other nominees up for a vote before the committee Thursday, Kraninger had no experience with the issues she would be overseeing in her position.

“Ms. Kraninger is in a class by herself,” Brown said. “She has zero, no relevant experience in finance or consumer protection.”

Still, Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., encouraged members to move Kraninger’s nomination through the committee.

“Given her depth and diversity of public service experience, I have the utmost confidence that she is well prepared to lead the bureau in enforcing federal consumer financial laws, protecting consumers’ sensitive personal financial information, expanding access to credit, and making the bureau more transparent and accountable,” Crapo said.

The committee also advanced the nominations of Michael Bright to be president of the Government National Mortgage Association, Kimberly Reed to be president of the Export-Import Bank, Elad Roisman to be a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Rae Oliver to be inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Dino Falaschetti to be director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Research.

Notably, Bright received praise from two of the committee’s Democrats: Tester and Mark Warner.

“He’s a bright guy and the administration is lucky to have him,” Warner said.

Bright helped to author 2013 legislation sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Warner, D-Va., to reform the government-sponsored enterprises when he worked as an aide to Corker. That bill, which failed to gain enough support to pass the Senate, would have wound down Fannie and Freddie in five years and created a new backstop for the mortgage market modeled after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

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