Fight Over the CFPB Spills into Nationwide Immigration Controversy

A prominent senator on Tuesday pledged to hold up the nomination of the potential new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief due to questions over her involvement with the ongoing immigration crisis at the southern border.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who helped create the framework for the modern CFPB, vowed to hold up Kathy Kraninger’s confirmation process until she turns over documents relating to her work overseeing the Department of Homeland Security’s budget — and specifically any potential involvement with the creation of the deeply controversial  “zero-tolerance” policy developed by the Trump administration regarding attempted border crossings.

“Kathy Kraninger helps oversee the agencies that are ripping kids from their parents,” Warren, a Democrat who has represented Massachusetts since 2012, wrote in a Tuesday tweet.

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Kraninger, whom President Trump advanced as a permanent replacement for CFPB acting director Mick Mulvaney earlier this week, currently works as an assistant director of general government programs at the Office of Management and Budget, a White House arm that oversees policy suggestions for a variety of agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.

That department has come under intense scrutiny in recent days over a Trump administration policy requiring the separation of children from people who have attempted crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border. Warren, along with fellow Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, wrote a letter to Kraninger asking for all documents relating to what she knew about the policy, including e-mails and internal memos she may have written during her time at OMB.

“In that role, you may have been involved in providing ‘policy and management guidance’ on the Zero-Tolerance Policy, helped implement the Zero-Tolerance Policy, and worked with DHS on budgetary and funding issues as it adjusted to the Zero-Tolerance Policy,” Warren and Brown wrote in their letter.

Warren’s vow came as Kraninger’s nomination continued to receive praise and criticism. Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, blasted the move as a cynical ploy to extend Mulvaney’s role as acting director into a more permanent arrangement.

“Given Ms. Kraninger’s apparent lack of qualifications for this role, it appears that her nomination may be less about securing her confirmation as director, and more about allowing Mick Mulvaney to continue to operate as acting director, which this nomination will potentially allow him to do through 2020 if she is not confirmed,” Waters said in a statement released Monday.

As Alan Kaplinsky of the law firm Ballard Spahr noted on Monday, advancing any potential replacement candidate allows Mulvaney to serve past his original June 22 expiration date as acting director; should the Kraninger nomination fall through, he can indeed hold his position through the summer of 2020.

Mulvaney gave his full-throated support of Kraninger in a CFPB statement released Tuesday.

“I have never worked with a more qualified individual than Kathy,” Mulvaney said. “Her commitment to the law, to protecting consumers, and to defending what works in our vibrant financial services sector — all while respecting hard-working taxpayers who pay their bills and play by the rules — ensures that the bureau will be in good hands throughout her term.”

Written by Alex Spanko