Trump Taps Kraninger to Replace Mulvaney at CFPB

Less than a week before a deadline that would have forced current Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acting director Mick Mulvaney to leave his post, President Trump formally nominated a candidate to replace him.

Kathy Kraninger, who has worked under Mulvaney at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is officially Trump’s pick to lead the consumer advocacy bureau.

The news reached the media late Friday night, with the White House releasing an formal statement regarding Kraninger’s nomination on Monday, along with multiple other federal appointees. 

She currently serves as the OMB’s associate director for general government; Mulvaney, who was appointed on an acting basis last fall, remains the head of the OMB, and is thus effectively Kraninger’s boss. Before OMB, Kraninger worked as a legislative aide in both houses of Congress, and served as the deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

Multiple Washington media sources have described the pick as something of a surprise, with Politico calling Kraninger as a “little-known budget official” and reporting that she was only chosen after other leading candidates, including National Credit Union Administration chairman J. Mark McWatters, were withdrawn. 

“If they felt more confident, they wouldn’t have leaked the name late Friday and announced it on a Saturday afternoon,” Politico reporters Ben White and Aubree Eliza Weaver wrote Monday morning. 

J.W. Verret, who worked for House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling — a Texas Republican — was even more blunt with White and Politico reporter Katy O’Donnell.

“It would be exactly like the Bush administration’s try at Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court and would end the same way,” Verret told the publication.

Miers withdrew from the Supreme Court nomination process back in 2005 after lawmakers criticized her lack of courtroom experience and difficulty answering questions typically asked during the confirmation process. Her failed nomination was also beset with concerns over whether she received the nod based largely on her personal friendship with then-President George W. Bush.

The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association did not have formal comment on Kraninger’s nomination as of press time, but Hensarling released a statement Monday praising her qualifications.

“I am especially pleased that President Trump nominated an individual with management and budget experience — two qualities that are desperately needed at an agency which has been plagued with cost overruns and unnecessary spending, and does not have a full-time and an independent inspector general,” Hensarling said.

Writing for his law firm’s Consumer Finance Monitor blog, Ballard Spahr attorney Alan Kaplinsky noted that Kraninger’s nomination also extended Mulvaney’s temporary reign at the top of the bureau: Had Trump not formally advanced a name by June 22, his interim appointment would have expired. 

Now, with Kraninger’s name in play, Mulvaney can stay at his post until mid-2020 at the latest, according to Kaplinsky — but only if the Senate rejects the new nominee and forces the start of another process.

“If confirmed as CFPB director, Ms. Kraninger is expected to follow Mr. Mulvaney’s philosophy of not using the CFPB’s enforcement authority to ‘push the envelope’ or to engage in ‘rulemaking by enforcement,’” Kaplinsky predicted.

Of course, there remains one more wrinkle to the succession plan at the bureau: Deputy director Leandra English continues to fight Mulvaney’s temporary appointment in court, and Kaplinsky notes that a judge could still rule that English is the rightful heir to the CFPB throne.

Written by Alex Spanko

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