Finance

Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam

Greg Nash

The Senate on Tuesday advanced President Biden’s pick to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) after a panel deadlocked on the nomination earlier this year.

Senators voted 49-48 along party lines to discharge Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra’s (D) nomination to be director of the CFPB from the Senate Banking Committee. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) did not vote.

“Americans need someone at the helm of the CFPB who is ready to stand up to the biggest banks and the most powerful corporations in order to protect consumers. Rohit Chopra has the expertise and track record to lead an agency dedicated to protecting working families and all consumers,” said Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

“Today, he has cleared a key Senate hurdle, and I urge my colleagues to support his final confirmation.”

The Tuesday vote allows Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to bring Chopra’s nomination up for a final vote sometime this week, though the leader has not yet announced when that will occur. 

Chopra’s bid to join the CFPB stalled in March when the Banking panel voted 12-12, also along party lines, on whether to advance his nomination. The tie forced Schumer to call a vote to move the nomination out of the committee and to the Senate floor. 

Chopra will only need a simple majority of senators to win confirmation, but the polarizing progressive is unlikely to win any Republican support. If all GOP senators are present for his confirmation vote, Chopra will likely need Vice President Harris to break the tie on his nomination.

A Democrat appointed to the FTC by former President Trump, Chopra is staunch supporter of aggressive financial sector oversight and steep penalties for banks and lenders who run afoul of regulations. He was a top aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) while she helped stand up the CFPB in 2011 and later became the bureau’s student loan ombudsman.

His close ties to Warren and skeptical eye toward the financial sector have endeared him to liberals, but made his nomination a non-starter with Republicans. 

“I’m deeply concerned that he’d return the CFPB to the hyperactive, sometimes law-breaking, anti-business, unaccountable agency it was under the Obama administration,” Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said of Chopra in March.

Tags Charles Schumer Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Mike Rounds Pat Toomey Richard Burr Rohit Chopra Sherrod Brown

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