Kathleen Kraninger is one step closer to leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after a close vote by the Senate Banking Committee.
The committee’s 13 Republicans all voted in favor of the controversial nominee, who is currently a staffer at the Office of Management and Budget, and its 12 Democrats all voted against Kraninger.
Nominated in June for the role, Kraninger now moves onto a full Senate vote. If confirmed, Kraninger will take over from the head of OMB, Mick Mulvaney, who was named acting director of the CFPB in November after Richard Cordray left to run for governor in his home state of Ohio.
At the OMB, she oversees $250 billion in budgetary resources for seven cabinet departments and 30 other federal agencies, including the Department of the Treasury, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the CFPB. She also was a staffer on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security and has also worked for the Department of Transportation. Additionally, she helped set up the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Kraninger has faced stiff opposition from Democrats, many of whom questioned her qualifications for the role. She has also come under fire for her involvement in some controversial policies and events of the Trump administration, including its response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the child-separation policy at the border.
Some Democrats criticized what they saw as her lack of answers to questions on those two factors. “She is refusing to describe her role in two very public management failures because she knows it would destroy her case for her nomination,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a driving force behind the CFPB’s creation.
Even some conservatives expressed hesitation over her qualifications. She is a “mid-level budget staffer lacking expertise, chosen to lead one of the most powerful agencies in the government,” J.W. Verret, a law professor at George Mason University who was chief economist for Rep. Jeb Hensarling, (R-Texas) told the Wall Street Journal.
Those in the financial services industry, however, have been largely in favor of Kraninger’s nomination.
“We congratulate the Senate Banking Committee … for recommending the confirmation of Kathleen Kraninger to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” said Rob Nichols, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association. “During her confirmation hearing, Ms. Kraninger detailed her substantial government and management experience that would help her lead the bureau, and she committed to satisfying the bureau’s mandate of ensuring consumers have access to financial products and services that are ‘fair, transparent and competitive.’”
Asked about her opinion of Mulvaney’s handling of the bureau, Kraninger expressed support for his actions.
“He is my current boss, who I respect greatly, and has been focused on implementing the law, so from that standpoint, I would say yes,” she said at her Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing in July.