Rohit Chopra was confirmed by the Senate as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is handing a consumer watchdog back to an agency shaken by partisan divisions over the extent of its power.
Chopra was approved by the Senate on Thursday in a 50-48 vote down the party lines. He was a member of the Federal Trade Commission.
It was announced nine months ago, before President Biden took office, as the government's election to head the CFPB. Chopra succeeds Kathy Kraninger, who was appointed to the Trump administration after serving as a senior official in the Office of Management and Budget. She led the CFPB for two years before stepping down in January.
The CFPB director serves the president following a landmark Supreme Court ruling last year that the agency's single director governance violated the constitutional separation of powers.
As FTC commissioner, Rohit Chopra, 39, was a vocal critic of large technology companies and advocated greater consumer compensation. Previously, he was CFPB Student Loans Ombudsman for five years under former CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
As an FTC officer, Chopra, 39, was a vocal critic of large tech companies and advocated greater consumer compensation. Previously, he was CFPB Student Loans Ombudsman for five years under former CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
Its confirmation was held up for months, mainly because the Democrats did not want to lose their majority in the FTC. Earlier this month, Biden hired Alvaro Bedoya, a professor at Georgetown University Law School, to replace Chopra as FTC commissioner.
Many expect Chopra to act aggressively to protect consumers financially damaged by the pandemic and to press for fairness and financial inclusion for minorities, one of the Biden government's priorities.
"The CFPB will have a leader ready to face the biggest banks and the most powerful corporations to protect families, military personnel, students and the elderly," said Senate Banking Committee chairman Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio .
But Republicans fear Chopra will revive pre-Trump enforcement practices that they believe were too aggressive.
Prior to Thursday's vote, Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Senior member of the Senate Banking Committee, said Chopra would return the CFPB to "the rogue, unaccountable anti-economic agency it was during the Obama administration. "
Richard Hunt, the CEO of the Consumer Bankers Association, called on Chopra to put politics aside and avoid repealing the rules enacted during the Trump administration.
"Under the leadership of Director Chopra, the Bureau should seek financial regulation that will last longer than a power shift in Washington," Hunt said in a press release. "Constant changes in leadership can create significant uncertainty among consumers, small businesses and financial institutions when rules between directors are repealed and repealed."