Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee slammed President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Thursday, saying she was not qualified to run the powerful agency.
Republicans, meanwhile, said that Kathy Kraninger’s experience at the White House Office of Management and Budget qualified her to serve as the CFPB’s director, NPR reported.
“I have the utmost confidence that she is well prepared to lead the bureau in enforcing federal consumer financial laws and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace,” said Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
Democrats on the committee countered that Kraninger has no experience with financial industry regulations. They also said she’d been involved in some of the Trump administration’s biggest scandals, including the botched response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, which resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the border.
“These are innocent children who may be scarred forever by this policy,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told Kraninger during the hearing. “It is fundamentally immoral, and you – you were part of it, Ms. Kraninger. It is a moral stain that will follow you for the rest of your life. And if the Senate votes to give a big promotion to you after this, it is a stain on the senators who do so.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said that he had obtained emails indicating that Kraninger helped design the administration’s response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, NPR reported.
“Three and a half million American citizens who just happen to call Puerto Rico their home – but they are American citizens just like you and I are – faced their darkest hour, and instead of turning to help them, you pinched pennies,” Menendez said. “And worst of all, I think you treated them as second-class citizens. That does not give me the faith that when you have to stand up for seniors, service members, students, homeowners against some of the biggest financial institutions in this country, that you’ll do that. If you couldn’t do it for the people of Puerto Rico, I don’t know how you’re going to do it for anybody else.”
Kraninger responded that she didn’t think it was appropriate for her to “get into the details” of her role in the hurricane response or the administration’s immigration policy – an answer that Warren characterized as “dodging.” Kraninger also said that she considered it a “slippery slope” to answer such questions, NPR reported.
“No, it’s not a slippery slope,” Warren said. “You don’t want to characterize because you don’t want to admit you had something to do with this. This was a policy that was designed to traumatize children and families as a way of scaring them away from the border even if they were seeking asylum – even if they were fleeing death threats, gang violence, domestic abuse.”
Kraninger insisted that she would use her position at the CFPB to protect Americans from financial abuse.
“Under my stewardship, the bureau will take aggressive action against bad actors who break the rules by engaging in fraud and other illegal activity,” she said.
The White House, meanwhile, insisted that Kraninger was the “right leader to reform and refocus” the agency. “Kraninger has dedicated her career to public service and has served in a wide range of leadership roles in both the executive and legislative branches,” it said in a statement.
Kraninger worked as a deputy to CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney in his other position as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.
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