Kathy who...?

That was a common response from financial services lobbyists and Republican and Democratic banking staffers on Capitol Hill to President Donald Trump’s pick to run a controversial consumer finance watchdog.

Kathy Kraninger, a little-known official who has worked for the White House’s Office of Management and Budget since March 2017, was named on Saturday to succeed her boss Mick Mulvaney as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The CFPB is one of the most politically divisive agencies in Washington, hailed as a regulatory crown jewel by Democrats and maligned by Republicans as a bastion of government overreach and waste.

Created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the bureau says it “makes sure banks, lenders and other financial companies treat you fairly.” Its jurisdiction covers a wide range of financial services marketed to everyday Americans, including including mortgages, credit cards, student loans and payday loans.

Warren’s Creation
Kraninger’s likely to face a tough Senate confirmation process over who should lead the agency that Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren is credited for creating in the wake of the financial crisis to protect consumers from financial abuse.

“It could all come down to her performance before the Senate Banking Committee,” said Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point. “The political complexities of the Bureau will ensure a barbarous confirmation process.”

Some Republican opposition is predicted, along with more united pushback from Democrats. Still, the GOP-controlled Senate bolsters Kraninger’s prospect of getting the 51 votes needed to get confirmed.

Progressive groups called Kraninger’s selection a political stunt and a placeholder to ensure that Mulvaney, whose been temporarily running the CFPB part time since November, stays in the job longer.

“The CFPB needs a director with a strong record of commitment to protecting consumers in the financial services marketplace,” said Lisa Donner, executive director, Americans for Financial Reform. “This nomination aims to keep the CFPB hobbled.”

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