Biden consumer watchdog pick signals more aggressive stance

FILE - In this May 8, 2019 file photo, then Federal Trade Commission commissioner Rohit Chopra testifies during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Chopra, President Joe Bidens nominee to run the federal consumer watchdog agency is likely to be face hostile questioning from Republican Senators on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, but is likely to be confirmed with Democrats controlling a majority in the Senate. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – President Joe Biden's nominee to run the federal consumer watchdog agency indicated Tuesday that if confirmed he would restore more aggressive enforcement actions against companies and banks that largely faded during the Trump administration.

Rohit Chopra, currently a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, would be the third permanent director of the decade-old Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

On his first day in office, Biden asked President Donald Trump's CFPB director, Kathy Kraninger, to resign.

Republicans have been critical of the CFPB from the onset, arguing that the bureau’s structure grants too much power to one person, its director. The CFPB is also not subject to the annual congressional budget process, instead receiving all its funds from the Federal Reserve.

Chopra said in his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday that he plans to “work with (senators) to build a new bipartisan consensus” for the bureau.

“I pledge to be a good partner to each of you and approach the agency’s mission with an open mind and attuned to market realities,” he said in prepared remarks.

But he also signaled he wants to return the agency to its former self. During the Trump administration, the CFPB drastically scaled back its enforcement actions, both in number and size, and it relegated concerns, such as fair lending, to a much smaller position inside the bureau.

Chopra said, if confirmed, he would likely return the bureau to aggressively fine and penalize companies for bad behaviors.