Warren to Put Hold on CFPB Nominee ‘Until She Turns Over All Documents About Her Role In’ Zero-Tolerance Policy

Kathy Kraninger and Elizabeth Warren
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted on Tuesday that she will put a hold on President Trump’s nomination of Kathy Kraninger to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Warren threatens to hold up Kraninger’s nomination until the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staffer “turns over all documents about her role in” the administration’s enforcement of the border crossing child separation law signed by President George W. Bush more than a decade ago, as detailed in the “zero-tolerance” policy announced by Attorney General Sessions in April.

Just a few minutes earlier, Warren tweeted that Kraninger “has no track record of helping consumers.”

In a letter sent to Kraninger on Monday in her role as program associate director at OMB, Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, wrote:

We write seeking documents and other information about your role in the development and implementation of the Trump Administration’s “Zero-Tolerance Policy,” who has led to the Administration to separate thousands of young children from their parents.

Since March 2017, you have served as the Program Associate Director for General Government Programs at the Office of Management and Budget. In that role, you oversee seven Executive Branch agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). That oversight role involves not only preparing the President’s annual budget request for those agencies, but also providing “ongoing policy and management guidance,” “oversee[ing] implementation of policy options,” and working with agencies throughout the year as they shift money to implement new legislation or Administration policy.

On April 6, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “Zero-Tolerance Policy for Criminal Illegal Entry.” That Zero-Tolerance Policy directed all U.S. Attorneys who serve in districts along the U.S.-Mexico border to criminally prosecute all cases of attempted illegal entry or illegal entry that are referred by DHS.

“The American people deserve to know what role you have played in developing and implementing this appalling process,” Warren and Brown wrote.

In the letter, they detail six different document requests:

1. A complete description of any role you may have played in OMB budgetary or policy decisions, analyses, or recommendations related to DOJ’s Zero-Tolerance Policy
2. All emails and other documents related to your communications with DOJ officials related to the development and implementation of DOJ’s Zero Tolerance Policy
3. All emails and other documents related to yur communication with DHS officials regarding the DHS role in separation of children from their parents
4. All emails and other documents related to your communications with White House officials, including Senior Advisor to the President Stephen Miller, related to the development of the Zero-Tolerance Policy
5. Any final or draft OMB analyses, recommendations, or budgetary or policy decisions in which you were involved related to the DOJ Zero-Tolerance Policy
6. All emails and other documents

Kraninger’s surprise nomination to head the CFPB, which OMB Director Mick Mulvaney has headed as acting director since November, has run into criticism from across the political spectrum, as CNBC reported on Sunday:

But consumer groups and conservatives alike were quick to criticize the announcement, with both sides questioning whether she was qualified and saying she may struggle to gain Senate approval as a result.

Allied Progress, a left-leaning consumer group, said Kraninger’s nomination was an attempt by Mulvaney to keep a grip on the agency, adding that she had “no relevant experience.”

J.W. Verret, an associate professor at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School and financial regulation expert, said in an email that Kraninger was regarded in conservative Republican circles as very “smart,” but he also pointed to her lack of consumer finance experience.

Warren’s demand for the release of “Zero-Tolerance Policy” documents from Kraninger, though predictable, was apparently not anticipated by the Trump administration when it decided to nominate a candidate to head the CFPB who has no consumer financial regulation experience and has spent much of her public service career working for DHS or involved in the budget approval process for DHS.

It comes at a time when the administration’s “Zero-Tolerance Policy” is under attack from virtually all Democrats, the mainstream press, and a number of Republicans, and provides critics of the policy — or more accurately the enforcement of existing law — with a forum to publicly attack the administration on a nomination for an independent agency that has nothing to do with the policy.

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