The Senate confirmed Rohit Chopra to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in a 50-to-48 party-line vote Thursday, continuing the Biden administration’s trend of placing aggressive regulatory enforcers in consumer protection agencies.
The vote, pushed hard by Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, occurred Thursday afternoon amid a chaotic week on Capitol Hill as lawmakers rushed to pass a funding bill while juggling a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package and $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Schumer had previously recommended Chopra be nominated to serve as commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2017, describing him as a “proven champion” of consumer rights.
The CFPB was founded in 2011 with a mission to protect consumers from predatory banking and lending practices. Chopra previously served as student loan ombudsman for the CFPB, and was a fellow at left-leaning think tanks such as the Roosevelt Institute and Center for American Progress.
Chopra’s nomination earned the backing Sen. Elizabeth Warren who cheered his nomination, calling Chopra a “fearless champion for consumers.” Chopra also worked with Warren, who was instrumental in the establishment of the CFPB, in the bureau’s early days.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus also applauded Chopra’s ”willingness to challenge concentrated corporate power.”
Chopra previously served as a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, where he has pushed for aggressive enforcement of consumer protection laws and stiff civil penalties for businesses that harm consumers. Chopra also advocated for the use of “disparate impact,” a method of policy analysis that examines how a policy produces different outcomes for different ethnic groups, as a way of identifying discriminatory laws.
“As we all know, it is rare to uncover direct evidence of racist intent, which is why disparate impact analysis is a critical tool to uncover hidden forms of discrimination under sector-specific laws like the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act,” Chopra argued.
Chopra’s confirmation is the latest boost to President Joe Biden’s push for more aggressive regulatory enforcement.
The Biden administration nominated Lina Khan, a vocal advocate for more aggressive antitrust, to head the FTC. Khan, who was confirmed in June, has pushed for more muscular regulation of anticompetitive conduct in digital markets and stronger oversight of mergers and acquisitions.
Biden also nominated Jonathan Kanter, an antitrust attorney and advocate, to head the Department of Justice’s antitrust division in July. As a lawyer Kanter was involved in a number of antitrust cases against big tech companies, including Google.
Alvaro Bedoya, an attorney and advocate for aggressive enforcement of consumer privacy laws, was nominated last week to replace Chopra at the FTC.
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