WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will likely name his pick to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau next week, according to Mick Mulvaney, the agency’s interim leader.
Mulvaney, speaking with reporters Tuesday, said he was recently told by White House Counsel Don McGahn that the Trump administration will adhere to a June 22 deadline for selecting a permanent CFPB director. Trump met with one of the finalists for the job last week, according to Mulvaney, who said he doesn’t know who the candidate was.
“I was not involved in the process,” Mulvaney said, adding that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and top White House economic advisers Larry Kudlow and Kevin Hasset have been leading the search. “Once they name a person I look forward to working with him or her to get that person up to speed.”
When the U.S. Senate confirms Trump’s pick it will bring an end to an unusual situation in which Mulvaney has served as the White House’s budget director, while simultaneously running a regulator that’s supposed to protect consumers from predatory lending. Mulvaney took over the CFPB in November, and Democrats such as Senator Elizabeth Warren have repeatedly cited his part-time status as evidence of the administration’s hostility to the CFPB’s mission.
Still, Mulvaney may not be leaving anytime soon because it could take the Senate months to sign off of his successor. Speaking with journalists at a Tuesday press briefing, Mulvaney said he expects to remain at the CFPB until late 2018.
The White House’s candidates include Mark McWatters, the chairman of the National Credit Union Administration and a former adviser to Republican House lawmaker Jeb Hensarling, people familiar with the matter have said. McWatters is considered to be a more moderate choice than others who have been under consideration, such as Todd Zywicki, a George Mason University law professor and a scholar at the conservative Mercatus Center.
Whoever gets the job would inherit an agency that has worn a bulls-eye since Trump’s 2016 election win. Mulvaney, a former House lawmaker who frequently blasted the agency when he was in Congress, has cut spending, closed investigations into companies and reorganized staff. The changes have roiled a watchdog that had been a scourge of the financial industry under former President Barack Obama.
Mulvaney said he will ask the Federal Reserve for $65.7 million to cover the CFPB’s operating costs for the fourth quarter, bringing his total budget requests for this year to $381 million. The total is $200 million less than what the agency received from the Fed in 2017.
For next year, Mulvaney said he has directed staff to propose cuts that would reduce the agency’s budget by 20 percent. While Mulvaney said he doesn’t plan to eliminate jobs, travel is one area where he expects to lower costs by tens of millions of dollars.