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UPDATE 1-U.S. Senate to vote soon on Chopra's move to top consumer watchdog

·2 min read

(Updates with move to floor vote, Sherrod Brown quotes, background)

WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday advanced a full chamber vote on the nomination of Federal Trade Commission member Rohit Chopra to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a key agency for President Joe Biden's administration. The Senate Banking Committee tied 12-12 on Chopra's nomination to the CFPB in March, but Schumer on Tuesday "discharged" Chopra from the committee, meaning his nomination can be put to a full floor vote.

Earlier on Tuesday, Schumer praised Chopra as having a long history of defending middle-class people from financial institutions and students from for-profit colleges.

Chopra's departure from the Federal Trade Commission, to which he was unanimously confirmed in 2018, would leave the five-member body with two Democrats and two Republicans. Three members of the commission must support a proposal for it to go forward. Privacy advocate Alvaro Bedoya has been nominated to replace him.

Progressives see both financial regulators as key to advancing policy directives around climate change and racial justice. The CFPB has been a political lightning rod since it was created following the 2009 financial crisis, beloved by Democrats as a guardian of ordinary Americans but reviled by Republicans as too powerful and unaccountable.

Chopra is expected to stamp out exorbitant lending rates and abusive debt-collection practices and address the student debt burden and gaps in minorities' access to credit.

"Americans need someone at the helm of the CFPB who is ready to stand up to the biggest banks and the most powerful corporations in order to protect consumers," Committee Chair Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement on Tuesday evening.

"Rohit Chopra has the expertise and track record to lead an agency dedicated to protecting working families and all consumers." (Reporting by Diane Bartz and Pete Schroeder; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Peter Cooney)