Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown delivered a sharp-tongued rebuke of one of his former employees who is President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the consumer finance agency.
Kathy Kraninger, 43, protege of current interim chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Mick Mulvaney, appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking Thursday for her confirmation hearing and faced tough questions from Democrats who fear she will continue the Trump administration’s efforts to defang the deeply contentious agency. (RELATED: Leandra English Waves The White Flag In The Battle Over The CFPB)
Brown, the ranking member on the committee, greeted Kraninger and her family kindly, then launched into a litany of reasons why she should not lead the CFPB in his opening remarks. Kraninger said in her opening statement that a “love for our country, its ideals and promise,” drover her commitment to public service. “It sparked my interest in my university’s summer internship program where I worked for my hometown Congressman, now Senator Brown,” Kraninger said.
“She’s been involved in managing one disastrous policy after another,” Brown said of his former intern. “The botched response to hurricanes in Puerto Rico has left U.S. citizens to fend for themselves. A housing policy that would increase homelessness. The administration’s cruelest policy yet — separating kids from their families.”
Democrats like Massachusetts Sen. Liz Warren, an architect and champion of the CFPB, criticized Kraninger in part for over her role overseeing a $250 billion budget of seven cabinet departments, including the Department of Homeland Security, which is at the center of the outrage over separation and detention of families who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
Kraninger said she had “no role” in setting the zero-tolerance border policy. While she said she was a participant in discussions at numerous levels of the administration, Kraninger said she made decisions based on the best information she had at the time. Regarding the U.S. assistance after Puerto Rico was devastated by two consecutive hurricanes, Kraninger said the OMB “supported the president” in the requests for Congressional funds for the disaster.
Brown hit back that while Kraninger claims she didn’t set policy, she did implement it. “When the AG announced it, it was his prerogative to do so,” Kraninger said. When
“What did you actually do in your position at OMB with that policy?” Brown pressed. Kraninger would said her role, as a budgetary agency, was to support the agencies accomplish the policies that they set, and said she didn’t think it appropriate to go through all her work in wrangling budgets. “Generally, the Office of Management and Budget supports those agencies in analyzing the need and looking at the appropriations law,” Kraninger said. Brown called that a “non answer.”
Brown’s final round of questioning centered on a court ruling that found the CFPB’s structure unconstitutional. To complicate the issue, the case centers around lawsuits against a predatory lenders who targeted NFL players and 9/11 first responders. The judge ruled that the CFPB’s director, which is famously unaccountable to Congress and can only be removed for cause by the president, is an unconstitutional structure.
“Are you going to side with the administration, or with the 9/11 scammers?” Brown asked. Kraninger responded that constitutional questions are beyond her authority to decide, but said that the CFPB director “has a responsibility to carry out the law as it is written, and run the agency as it is established now, and that’s my focus.”
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