Reaction from Congress and the banking industry came quickly after President-elect Joe Biden nominated current FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra to lead the CFPB.
President-elect Joe Biden has announced a number of new administration posts and nominees, among them Rohit Chopra to be the next Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to a press release from the Biden transition team, Chopra, currently Commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, has "actively advocated to promote fair, competitive markets that protect families and honest businesses from abuses." Commissioner Chopra was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2018. Previously, he served as an Assistant Director of the Bureau, serving as the CFPB’s Student Loan Ombudsman. He also served as a Special Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education. Chopra has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
The CFPB was originally set up as an independent body with a single Director; but following the holding in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Seila Law v. the CFPB, that the Bureau’s structure impeded upon the President’s removal powers under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the CFPB Director can now be removed by the president "at will" (see Banking and Finance Law Daily, June 29, 2020).
Reaction to news of Chopra’s nomination predictably fell along party lines. Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash) called the selection of Chopra "an excellent decision" and stated that under his leadership, "the CFPB will be able to once again live up to its mission as a bulwark against predatory lending and abuse and restore power to the hands of consumers." Jayapal continued, "We also encourage President-elect Biden to appoint a successor to Commissioner Chopra at the Federal Trade Commission who shares his strong commitment to vigorously enforcing our nation's antitrust and consumer protection laws." Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC), ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, issued a statement that Chopra’s nomination "is proof that the Biden team is pandering to members of the far-left who want to weaponize the CFPB to go after financial services companies they simply don’t like."
Associations and consumer organizations react. The American Bankers Association congratulated Chopra on his nomination, and stated that the association looks forward to working with him "to make sure consumers continue to have access to the financial products and services they want and need with the protections they deserve." U.S. PIRG also applauded the nomination. Americans for Financial Reform issued a statement in support of the nomination, noting that the CFPB "has an incredibly important job to do" and cited the Bureau’s "urgent role to play" in helping families recover from the pandemic-induced economic crisis. Dennis M. Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, stated that the nomination sends a message that "the CFPB is back in business and is going to fulfill its mission of protecting Main Street consumers, including the military, elderly, vulnerable and poorest among us who are repeatedly targeted by financial predators."
The Center for Responsible Lending expressed hope 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." The National Community Reinvestment Coalition stated that Chopra "will be a champion for fair lending and a renewed commitment to ending abusive practices in the financial market." Public Citizen’s statement on the nomination asserts that consumers "can rest just a little bit easier knowing that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will not just be on their side, but aggressively establishing rules to stop ripoffs and enforcing the rules against financial cheats and scamsters."
Companies: American Bankers Association; Americans for Financial Reform; Better Markets; Center for Responsible Lending; National Community Reinvestment Coalition; Public Citizen; U.S. PIRG
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