Indian American Rohit Chopra to lead consumer bureau

Rohit Chopra
Rohit Chopra

Warren ally has actively advocated fair, competitive markets that protect families and honest businesses.

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Rohit Chopra, a strong Indian American consumer advocate aligned with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

If confirmed, Chopra, now a Commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, would be returning to helm an agency he helped Warren set up after its establishment by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010.

Announcing Chopra’s nomination with a number of other key administration posts Monday, Biden said, “Our administration will hit the ground running to deliver immediate, urgent relief to Americans; confront the overlapping crises of COVID-19, the historic economic downturn, systemic racism and inequality, and the climate crisis; and get this government working for the people it serves,

“These tireless public servants will be a key part of our agenda to build back better — and I am confident they will help make meaningful change and move our country forward.”

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said, “These remarkable public servants reflect the very best of our nation, and they will help us contain this pandemic, create an economy that works for working people, and rebuild our country in a way that lifts up all Americans.”

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Chopra has actively advocated to promote fair, competitive markets that protect families and honest businesses from abuses, a Biden-Harris transition announcement said.

He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2018, and he has pushed for aggressive remedies against lawbreaking companies, especially repeat offenders, it noted.

Together with state and international law enforcement partners, he has worked to increase scrutiny of dominant technology firms that pose risks to privacy, national security, and fair competition.

Chopra previously served as Assistant Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he led the agency’s efforts on student loans.

In 2011, the Secretary of the Treasury appointed him to serve as the CFPB’s Student Loan Ombudsman, a new position established in the financial reform law. He also served as a Special Advisor at the US Department of Education.

“In these roles, Chopra led efforts to spur competition in the student loan financing market, develop new tools for students and student loan borrowers to make smarter decisions, and secure hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds for borrowers victimized by unlawful conduct by loan servicers, debt collectors, and for-profit college chains,” the transition said.

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He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

The selection of Chopra signals that the Biden administration plans to return the CFPB to the more-muscular posture of its early days following three years of Trump administration appointees curbing the agency’s reach, Politico reported.

Chopra’s confirmation process will likely be difficult, with Democrats only narrowly in control of the Senate, it suggested noting the CFPB, “Warren’s brainchild, was long a favorite target of Republican lawmakers, who slammed the agency’s tough regulations as executive overreach.”

Business groups have pushed for years for clarification on what counts as abusive, and the agency said earlier this year that it would take a restrained approach to charging companies with abusiveness violations, based in part on whether the businesses were acting in good faith, it said. Consumer groups immediately decried the open-ended “good-faith” exemption.

Chopra top priorities at the bureau are set to include ramping up enforcement of fair lending laws, in addition to cracking down on payday lenders and building what counts as an “abusive act or practice” for a slate of businesses, The Hill said citing multiple reports.

Other nominees announced Monday include a slate of deputy secretary picks, including Elizabeth Klein for Interior, Jewel Bronaugh for Agriculture, Andrea Palm for Health and Human Services, Polly Trottenberg for Transportation and Cindy Marten for Education.

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