CFPB Director Confirmation Remains Held Up, Apparently by Partisan Concerns

Four months after President Joe Biden selected Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra as his nominee to serve as the next full-time director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the nomination remains held up without a scheduled confirmation vote by the U.S. Senate which some observers attribute to concerns held by Democrats about the balance of power within the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This is according to a story at American Banker.

Official portrait of FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra FTC | CC0
Rohit Chopra

Since Chopra sits on the commission currently, analysts say that Democrats are concerned that a speedy confirmation for him without an appointed Democrat to replace him would swing the FTC into Republican control, potentially undermining the president’s agenda on matters overseen by the FTC.

“Many believe Chopra will ultimately squeak through the narrowly divided Senate after a separate nomination is approved for another Biden-backed FTC commissioner,” the story reads. “Still, with Chopra in limbo, the administration has yet to confirm an administration pick to lead any of the regulators.”

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However, other analysts have noted that the current Acting CFPB Director, Dave Uejio, has made Chopra’s confirmation less of a pressing priority due to Uejio’s commitment to serve as a very active leader at the Bureau in pursuing the administration’s stated goals of cracking down on predatory practices and seeking to mitigate racial disparities in the financial system, the story says.

“The expectation is that Rohit Chopra will be confirmed in about a month,” said Christopher Willis, a partner at Ballard Spahr and co-leader of its consumer financial services group to American Banker.

Chopra’s Senate confirmation hearing took place on March 2 alongside Gary Gensler, the nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Gensler ultimately assumed the office of SEC chair in mid-April, while Chopra’s nomination has been in limbo since then. Ballard Spahr had previously speculated that Chopra’s confirmation would be complicated by the political balance of power at the FTC.

There is also merit to the idea that sitting Republican lawmakers are content to “stall” Chopra’s confirmation, the article says, citing the words of ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) who was highly critical of Chopra in his opening remarks during Chopra’s confirmation hearing.

Acting CFPB Director Dave Uejio

“[Commissioner Chopra would] return the CFPB to the hyperactive, law-breaking, anti-business, unaccountable agency it was under [the] Obama administration,” Toomey said at the time.

In the meantime, Acting CFPB Director Uejio has been fulfilling his promise of being very active in his acting role, and has been serving since January shortly after previous CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger, a Trump appointee, resigned on Inauguration Day at the request of the Biden administration.

Not only has Acting Director Uejio aimed to make clear to financial institutions that the CFPB would be more active in enforcement when directly compared with the actions of prior CFPB directors under the previous administration, but he has also overseen an enforcement action against a reverse mortgage lender over allegations related to its advertising practices.

Read the article at American Banker, subscription required.

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