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Senate Confirms Chopra As Consumer Watchdog

 |  October 1, 2021

The Senate confirmed Rohit Chopra as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Thursday, September 30, putting in place a seasoned regulator and Wall Street critic to police lending.

Senators approved Chopra in a 50-48 vote. No Republican supported his nomination, reflecting long-running antagonism from the right over the very existence of the consumer bureau, which Democrats set up a decade ago to crack down on predatory lending.

Chopra, who for the last three years served at the Federal Trade Commission, is expected to revive a more aggressive posture toward the finance industry after Democrats blasted the Trump administration for weakening consumer safeguards. The agency is the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Democrat – Massachusetts), and Chopra helped her set up the bureau after its enactment in the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.

Credit reporting companies, small-dollar lenders, debt collectors, and financial technology startups are among the players expected to face scrutiny from Chopra’s CFPB, as well as the student loan industry and mortgage servicers. The agency under interim leadership for the last eight months has already taken some initial steps to address lenders’ pandemic-era treatment of consumers and to advance the Biden administration’s racial justice priorities.

“It’s already on the track, but Chopra’s going to be driving the train faster,” said Allyson Baker, a former CFPB enforcement attorney and the chair of the law firm Venable’s financial services practice.

Chopra’s confirmation is the latest victory for progressives who have so far succeeded in putting their stamp on the Biden administration’s recruitment of top financial regulators. President Joe Biden has scattered allies of Warren and other liberal lawmakers throughout agencies tasked with overseeing the finance industry, including Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler.