Senate one step closer to voting on CFPB nominee

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WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has filed a motion that could bring the administration's choice for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director up for a vote before the full Senate later this month.

McConnell's cloture motion on the nomination of Kathy Kraninger moves the Senate one step closer to confirming a permanent director of the bureau following the departure late last year of former Director Richard Cordray. Mick Mulvaney, the head of the Office of Management and Budget, has been serving as the CFPB's acting director.

The official time date of the cloture vote has yet to be determined but is expected to occur after the Senate goes into recess for Thanksgiving. If the cloture vote is successful, the Senate will have up to 30 hours to debate the nomination before voting to confirm Kraninger — now a senior OMB official — as director.

Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee cited Kraninger's experience in management and public service as reason to support her nomination, but Democrats on the committee, which include moderate Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., unanimously objected to advancing the nomination to the full Senate floor.

Democrats criticized her role at OMB 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.

They also said she lacked relevant experience in consumer finance to lead the CFPB and didn’t adequately answer their questions during her confirmation hearing.

If the Senate is unable to confirm Kraninger before the end of the current Congress, she would have to be renominated and Mulvaney could still stay on in an acting capacity for several months.

The Federal Vacancies Reform Act limits the service of temporary appointees to prevent a president from evading Senate review. The law sets a 210-day deadline for acting officials, but that time is extended while a first and in some cases second nomination for the office is submitted to the Senate and the nomination is pending.

The Senate has a tight calendar and several big-ticket items to vote on during the current lame-duck session, including flood insurance, a farm bill and a slew of lifetime judicial appointments, including a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Yet the motion filed by McConnell indicates GOP Senate leaders are focused on trying to get Kraninger and other regulatory appointees confirmed before the end of this Congress. On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Kansas banking commissioner Michelle Bowman to a seat on the Federal Reserve Board.

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