Last month, President Donald Trump nominated Office of Budget and Management Deputy Kathy Kraninger as the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Thursday, Kraninger appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs for her nomination hearing. As expected, the hearing had its share of controversy.
In fact, the nomination hearing was not only for Kraninger, but also for Kimberly Reed, who was nominated as president of the Export-Import Bank. However, hardly any of the senators’ questions were directed as Reed.
Leading up to the hearing, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., had already made her sentiments known, threatening to freeze out the president’s nomination until she heard more about Kraninger’s role in developing the controversial boarder immigration policy which separated parents from their children.
During the hearing, Warren capitalized on her time to once again question Kraninger on her role for developing the policy, saying the CFPB needs, “Someone who is willing to stand up to powerful people on behalf of those who don’t have power.”
But Kraninger simply answered that it’s difficult to separate her advice given on the policy from the actual policy enacted. She also insisted that it was not appropriate to give her personal opinion on matter.
And due to Kraninger dodging questions and the senators asking loaded questions or giving little time to answer, very little actually got resolved in the hearing. Some senators even used their time to fight amongst themselves on issues such as the border immigration policy, saying if Congress really wanted a fix they should act on it themselves.
Overall, Kraninger said little either in support of or against CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney and how he has run the bureau the past several months. She also did not say where she would make budget cuts at the bureau, saying she would look at every line item.
Kraninger also kept her answers vague when it came to how the bureau would regulate businesses under her leadership. While she did come out against regulation by enforcement, she also said that while it is her duty to enforce the law, she would look to avoid over-regulation. It is unclear where that line would be.
In response to Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., Kraninger said the law will be carried out, but she understands the need to limit. “There is a limited intent for the bureau to be engaged in small business oversight,” Kraninger said.
Kraninger voiced several times, including in her opening statement, her openness to changes and hope to make the CFPB more open and more transparent. However, some Democratic senators were skeptical of this, saying she is not even transparent about her role in her current position at the OMB.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., for example, became frustrated when Kraninger did not give a “clear answer” about what kind of advice she is responsible for giving at the OMB.
“How can we trust you will be open and transparent when you aren’t even transparent about the job you do now at the OMB?” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., asked.
While some say Kraninger will gather enough support from the Republican party to pass through the nomination process, others aren’t so sure. In fact, some say Kraninger’s nomination is nothing more than a stalling tactic to keep Mulvaney at the helm of the CFPB for a while longer.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, R-Id., asked for senators to submit any remaining questions to the nominees, saying they would have until July 31, 2018 to respond to the questions. Crapo announced his hope that a committee vote would follow in that same week.