Consumer bureau chief to face lawmakers for first time since confirmation

Consumer bureau chief to face lawmakers for first time since confirmation

The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will appear before a House panel next week as Democrats ramp up their oversight of the controversial regulator, the committee’s chairwoman said Thursday.

Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching MORE (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, said Thursday that CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger will testify next week before the panel.

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The Financial Services Committee is scheduled to hold a March 7 hearing on the impact of the Trump administration's takeover of the CFPB. It was unclear if Kraninger would attend the hearing until Waters confirmed the director would appear before the panel.

“She will be there. She is a witness,” Waters said. "It's confirmed."

A CFPB spokeswoman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Kraninger’s testimony will be her first appearance before lawmakers since she was confirmed to lead the CFPB in December by a 50 to 49 vote. It will also be her first stint before the House Financial Services Committee, where she'll face Waters and a slew of Democrats highly critical of her appointment. 

A former White House budget official, Kraninger has said she’ll steer the bureau toward a more accountable middle ground after the tumultuous tenure of Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump administration asks Supreme Court to take up challenge to consumer bureau NOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE.

Mulvaney now the White House chief of staff, led the CFPB as acting director from November 2017 until Kraninger was sworn in on Dec. 10. His drastic pullback of industry oversight, sharp budget cuts and reorganization of the bureau demoralized much the CFPB staff, enraged consumer advocates and elated the agency’s critics in the Republican Party and financial sector.

Waters has pledged to hold Mulvaney accountable for his controversial tenure and push Kraninger to restore the CFPB’s aggressive oversight and regulation of banks and lenders.

Kraninger alarmed Democrats and progressives when the bureau released a proposal to strip down a 2017 rule on short-term, high-interest loans.

The so-called “payday rule” was the last major regulation released under former CFPB Director Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayTrump administration asks Supreme Court to take up challenge to consumer bureau Watchdog agency must pick a side: Consumers or scammers Kraninger's CFPB gives consumers the tools to help themselves MORE (D), and a primary target for Mulvaney when he took over the agency.

Waters and Financial Services panel Democrats who staunchly support the payday rule are likely to press Kraninger on the regulation’s future and how she plans to oversee the short-term lending industry.

Kraninger is also likely to face questions regarding how strictly she plans to penalize banks and lenders suspected of defrauding or abusing customers, and whether she will make personnel changes or cuts.