NCUA Head McWatters In Running For CFPB Head Appointment

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) chairman J. Mark McWatters is in the running to be named the next leader of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), according to Thursday (Dec. 28) reports from American Banker.

Appointing McWatters could reduce the fight between Democrats and Republicans over who is named to the CFPB because Waters is both pragmatic and conservative, making him a smart choice to add to the short list of potential new heads, according to one analyst.

“He’s pragmatic and measured, which will make it very difficult for Democrats to vilify him during the nomination process,” said Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading.

Todd Zywicki, a law professor at George Mason University; Representative Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, and Keith Noreika, the former acting comptroller of the currency, have also been named to the list of potential new CFPB directors.

Whoever is ultimately chosen will have the ability to overhaul the government watchdog, an organization which has been in turmoil since former director Richard Cordray resigned in November and President Trump named Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, as the acting head. Mulvaney is a vocal critic of the CFPB and instituted a 30-day freeze on any actions when he took over.

Mulvaney’s appointment received a lot of pushback from Democrat lawmakers, but a nomination of someone like McWatters may not elicit the same response. He was confirmed this past summer as the NCUA chairman, suggesting he would be able to obtain the votes again for another appointment.  

What’s more, McWatters has not openly criticized the agency, although he has called on the CFPB to roll back the oversight of credit unions in many cases. A McWatters appointment could face opposition from banking groups that may be concerned about the relationship between the CFPB and NCUA with McWatters at the helm, though. Banks have long complained that the CFPB isn’t as tough as it should be on the credit unions.