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Politics & MoneyMortgage

Biden nominates Rohit Chopra to head CFPB

Former student-loan watchdog at the bureau signals a stronger regulatory focus

President-elect Joe Biden announced several appointments Monday, including FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Chopra is a CFPB veteran, having previously served as assistant director, where he was the bureau’s top student loan watchdog. In 2011, the Secretary of the Treasury appointed him to serve as the CFPB’s student loan ombudsman, a new position established in the financial reform law. As one of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s, D-Mass., first hires as she constructed the CFPB, Chopra was on the ground floor as the bureau was built. He has also served as special advisor at the U.S. Department of Education.

Chopra was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2018 for his current position at the FTC, where he pushed for aggressive remedies against lawbreaking companies.

“Our administration will hit the ground running to deliver immediate, urgent relief to Americans; confront the overlapping crises of COVID-19, the historic economic downturn, systemic racism and inequality and the climate crisis; and get this government working for the people it serves,” Biden said of Monday’s nominees. “These tireless public servants will be a key part of our agenda to build back better — and I am confident they will help make meaningful change and move our country forward.”

While there has been talk that Republicans could challenge Biden’s right to fire CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger and also appoint a new director to the role, with the Democrats holding a slight majority in the Senate, the nomination is likely to be confirmed.

Chopra’s appointment signals the Biden administration could be preparing for a return to a more aggressive regulatory regime. In his previous roles, together with state and international law enforcement partners, he has worked to, “increase scrutiny of dominant technology firms that pose risks to privacy, national security and fair competition.”

“Commissioner Chopra has long fought for financial markets that are fair for consumers, including student loan borrowers,” said Ashley Harrington, Center for Responsible Lending federal agency director and senior council.

“We are encouraged that the CFPB will now return to its mission of protecting people’s finances, which has heightened significance in this economic downturn, and which includes a strong fair lending program. Chopra is the latest in a series of impressive federal agency and department nominees, which includes former Federal Reserve Chair [Janet] Yellen, Congresswoman [Marcia] Fudge, and Connecticut Education Commissioner Cardona. We look forward to working with them all,” Harrington said.

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