President Donald Trump nominated an Office of Management and Budget staffer to replace Mick Mulvaney as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on June 18.
Kathy Kraninger, an associate director of the OMB under Mulvaney, received the presidential nod to permanently replace him at the CFPB. She currently 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.
Mulvaney has been acting director since November, when he replaced departing Obama appointee Richard Cordray.
The move sparked a swift backlash from some consumer advocates.
“This is nothing more than a desperate attempt by Mick Mulvaney to maintain his grip on the CFPB, so he can continue undermining its important consumer protection mission,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress, a liberal consumer advocacy group. “Kathy Kraninger has zero relevant experience that qualifies her to be America’s chief consumer advocate.”
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.
Industry advocates were more sanguine on Kraninger’s potential.
“Her experience at OMB alongside Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney, along with her years of work on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch, would serve her well in this important position,” said Rob Nichols, president of the American Bankers Association. “We look forward to learning more about her views on specific regulatory issues during the confirmation process.”
Kraninger is almost guaranteed to face stiff opposition from Democrats, including CFPB founder Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has been strongly critical of Mulvaney’s handling of the bureau. The confirmation process could take months,
Trump is coming down to the wire on this nomination. Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, the acting director of an executive office can only serve for a maximum of 210 days without Senate confirmation – for Mulvaney, that’s until June 22.
As soon as Trump formally appoints someone – Kraninger – to be director of the CFPB, the Senate will have to confirm or reject them. If the nomination happens before June 22, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act would allow Mulvaney to remain until a successor is confirmed. If the appointee is rejected by the Senate, the Act would allow Mulvaney to remain an additional 210 days.
Kraninger has been OMB’s program associate director for general government since March of last year. 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. She has a law degree from Georgetown University and a undergraduate degree from Marquette University.
“She will bring a fresh perspective and much-needed management experience to the BCFP, which has been plagued by excessive spending, dysfunctional operations and politicized agendas,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters in a statement, using Mulvaney’s preferred acronym for the agency.