Consumer bureau vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency

Camille Fine

The former deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), who lost a legal battle for control of the agency to the Trump administration, will lead President-elect Joe Biden’s preparations to overhaul the powerful financial watchdog. 

Leandra English was named Tuesday as the leader of the Biden transition’s review team for the agency, a move likely to please progressives and advocates for tougher financial rules. Biden is widely expected to replace current CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger, a Trump appointee, upon taking office.

English served as the CFPB’s No. 2 from November 2017 through July 2018 after an unsuccessful bid to serve as the agency’s acting director. Her legal battle with the Trump administration became a proxy war between Democrats in favor of strict financial sector regulation and Republicans that sought to rein in the agency.

Former CFPB Director Richard Cordray promoted English — then his chief of staff — to be the bureau’s deputy director in November 2017, shortly before resigning from the agency.

The move was intended to leave the CFPB in the hands of a leader who would carry on Cordray’s legacy of tough financial regulations and grueling oversight of banks and lenders. But Trump successfully overrode the CFPB’s line of succession by appointing Mick Mulvaney, then the White House budget director, as acting CFPB chief. 

English sued the Trump administration for control of the CFPB after Mulvaney’s appointment. A judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against English and in favor of Mulvaney’s appointment as CFPB director.

English’s defeat cleared the way for Mulvaney to gut the CFPB from within. The acting chief eased the CFPB’s oversight of banks and lenders, shook up the bureau’s internal structure to limit the influence of career employees, reopened the bureau’s role on payday lending and put an attorney who had written racist blog posts in charge of weeding out racial discrimination.

English appealed her loss to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which heard arguments in the case in April 2019. She dropped the suit in July after resigning from the CFPB and currently serves as a policy adviser to the New York Department of Financial Services.

Tags Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Donald Trump Joe Biden Leandra English Mick Mulvaney Mick Mulvaney Richard Cordray Richard Cordray

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