Senate Votes Along Party Lines to Confirm Rohit Chopra as Head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- The 39-year-old Indian American will serve a five-year term at the agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making regulations more effective, consistently and fairly enforcing rules, and empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.
The Senate has voted 50-48 along party lines on Sept. 30, to confirm Rohit Chopra as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Chopra, 39, will serve a five-year term at the agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making regulations more effective, consistently and fairly enforcing rules, and empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.
A tie-breaker on a procedural vote from Vice President Kamala Devi Harris, advanced Chopra’s nomination to the final vote. In June, Harris cast the tie-breaking 51st vote to confirm Kiran Ahuja as director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), making her the first South Asian American to lead the independent federal agency.
Chopra was nominated in January to succeed Kathy Kraninger, a Trump-appointed official who had run the bureau from 2018 until Jan. 20.
As anticipated, Chopra received resistance from the GOP, “who said he would wield the bureau’s sweeping powers to pursue an anti-business agenda,” The New York Times reported. During Chopra’s confirmation on Sept. 30, Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee, said he feared Chopra would return the bureau to “the lawless, overreaching, highly politicized agency it was during the Obama administration,” the Times report said.
According to The Washington Post, progressives see Chopra, “as an experienced and headstrong rulemaker who is not afraid to take a hard line against big banks,” while the conservatives “say they fear he will steer the bureau toward becoming an unaccountable regulatory body with an anti-business agenda.”
A strong ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, he most recently served as a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission. At the FTC, Chopra “pushed the agency to be more skeptical of private equity buyers and more aggressive in using its rulemaking powers to rein in businesses,” Bloomberg reported.
Chopra now returns to helm an agency he helped Warren set up after its establishment by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010. He worked at the CFPB as an assistant director and student loan ombudsman. Before that he was a special adviser to the secretary of education in the U.S. Department of Education in 2016 on loan servicing issues.
After his nomination, Politico reported that “Chopra’s selection “signals that the Biden administration plans to return the CFPB to the more-muscular posture of its early days following three years of Trump administration appointees curbing the agency’s reach.”
Reports in Politico and Bloomberg, say that in his role at the CFPB, Chopra is expected to ramp up enforcement of fair lending laws, as well as cracking down on payday lenders. The Times speculates that Chopra’s “immediate focus is likely to be on pandemic relief measures.”
At his confirmation hearing with the Senate Banking Committee in March, Chopra told lawmakers that “he would seek to protect Americans struggling with debt amid the coronavirus pandemic from potential abuses by lenders and look into issues such as data privacy,” reported The Wall Street Journal. The committee voted 12-12 along partisan lines in March on his nomination.
Chopra received a B.A. from Harvard University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He worked at McKinsey & Company from 2008 to 2010 in the financial services, healthcare, and consumer technology sectors.