Trump nominee assailed at hearing as unfit to lead consumer bureau
Kathy Kraninger, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, faced withering criticism on Thursday from Democrats, who repeatedly charged that she was unqualified to lead the powerful agency.
With her confirmation already resting on a tight margin, Kraninger drew no words of support from any Democrat during a nearly three-hour confirmation hearing, which Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) called “intense.”
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Kraninger, who has worked as a congressional aide and at the departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, has a short paper trail and no clear experience in financial policy. The bureau’s critics see her nomination as a way to keep acting Director Mick Mulvaney, her boss at the Office of Management and Budget, in the loop at the CFPB.
With no consumer protection record to attack, Democrats homed in on Kraninger’s position as an associate OMB director overseeing the agencies responsible for the controversial “zero-tolerance” border policy and disaster recovery in Puerto Rico.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) repeatedly asked Kraninger whether she had any role in “developing or implementing” the policy responsible for separating children from their parents at the border.
“You’ve given a very lawyerly and limited answer — you’re dodging,” Warren told Kraninger. “The answers have also been contradictory: You’ve said you had no role in ‘setting’ the policy, but you also can’t describe the advice you gave on the policy. Which raises a question: Which is it — you had no role, or you had a role and you can’t describe it?” she added.
“I had no role in developing it, in terms of its announcement by the attorney general,” Kraninger responded. “Subsequent to the attorney general’s announcement, there were meetings within the administration on the general topic of the implementation.”
Warren said the policy “is fundamentally immoral, and you — you — were part of it, Ms. Kraninger. It is a moral stain that will follow you for the rest of your life, and if the Senate votes to give a big promotion to you, this then it is a stain on the senators who do so.”
Shortly after Warren stopped speaking, a member of the audience started playing a tape of children crying at the border.
Even moderate Democrats from states Trump won by wide margins appeared unimpressed by Kraninger.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said he had gone to the hearing with an open mind about the nomination but grew frustrated with Kraninger’s answers.
“I will confirm a lot of people that I disagree with if they answer the questions. But when they don’t answer the questions, there’s something fundamentally wrong here,” Tester said in an interview. “I was going to make my decision based off of this hearing and she failed.”
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who has a fairly close relationship with Trump, said she hadn’t made up her mind but said she had concerns “about core competency.”
“I also have concern that someone sitting there could listen to a story about someone losing their home, someone losing their life savings, and not feel compelled to move in a public policy way to remove that misery or to respond to that misery,” Heitkamp told POLITICO.