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Senate to advance Biden’s pick for CFPB

Republican lawmaker has said Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra is too "anti-business"

Eight months after President Joe Biden tapped Rohit Chopra to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he is ready to bring the nomination to the Senate floor for a vote.

The Senate Cloakroom said the Senate would proceed to a vote late Tuesday afternoon on the motion to discharge Chopra’s nomination from the Senate Banking Committee.

“This is the right man to lead this agency after it languished under the presidency of Donald Trump,” Schumer told his colleagues Tuesday. “Chopra has a long history of defending student loan borrowers from unscrupulous for-profit colleges and already served in the CFPB under President Obama where he was defending the rights of middle-class people who might be taken advantage of by rapacious financial institutions.”

Those who opposed Chopra’s nomination, including the Senate Banking Committee’s ranking Republican member, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, have raised concerns that he is overzealous in his efforts to crack down on big business.

Ahead of the committee’s March vote, Toomey said Chopra would return the CFPB to the “hyperactive, sometimes law-breaking, anti-business, unaccountable agency it was under the Obama Administration.” The Senate Banking Committee’s vote on Chopra resulted in a 12-12 tie

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Chopra previously served as assistant director at the CFPB, where he was the agency’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. 

Chopra was one of Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s earliest hires as she constructed the CFPB. 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 Federal Trade Commission, where he pushed for aggressive action against companies including Facebook.

Despite enjoying unanimous approval for his nomination to the FTC, nomination to the CFPB is no easy feat. Bringing Chopra’s nomination to the floor now would also mean devoting precious Senate conference time for debate, just as Senate Democrats are marshaling votes to advance infrastructure legislation.

Nevertheless, Schumer said that over the next few weeks, Senate Democrats would move forward with several “noncontroversial” nominees. The Biden administration’s nominees for housing positions, however, have been anything but.

Last month, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing for Julia Gordon, who Biden nominated as commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration, and CFPB Acting Director David Uejio, Biden’s pick for assistant secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

The committee questioned Gordon’s tweets — which she had since deleted — in favor of defunding the police.

That day, the committee said it would reconvene in September to vote on Gordon and Uejio’s nominations. But last week, according to sources, the committee abruptly canceled its scheduled vote.

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