Saying he looks forward to approaching with an open mind the mission of the federal consumer financial protection agency he was nominated to lead, Rohit Chopra told a Senate panel Tuesday that fair and effective oversight of the mortgage market can promote a “resilient and competitive financial sector” while also addressing racial inequities.
Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee during a hearing on his nomination to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Chopra said the last economic crisis of 10 years ago, “we saw how unlawful and avoidable foreclosures proved to be catastrophic in cities, small towns, and rural areas alike, contributing to deeper social divisions and inequities.”
He said the country again faces “an important test to ensure that troubles in the housing market do not sabotage the recovery of our local economies.”
Supporting his points, on Monday, the bureau released a report asserting that up to 10% of U.S. households are now at risk of eviction and foreclosures, largely as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. The report, issued by CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio, also noted that the bureau is working with other agencies to mitigate a potential flood of home foreclosures and evictions in the coming months.
Chopra also told the committee that administration of consumer protection laws can help families navigate their options to save their homes. “Congress has entrusted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with carefully monitoring markets to spot risks, ensuring compliance with existing law, educating consumers, and promoting competition,” he said. “This not only helps to protect Americans from fraud and other unlawful conduct, it also ensures that law-abiding businesses, regardless of size, can compete.”
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), in his comments opening the confirmation hearing (which also included Gary Gensler, nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Committee [SEC]), said the bureau was created by Congress “to be a voice for all Americans who too often don’t have one in Washington.”
He said Chopra has a deep understanding of financial markets and a strong record of protecting consumers and small businesses, promoting competitive markets, and holding bad actors accountable. “With Mr. Chopra leading the CFPB, Americans can be confident they’ll have someone looking out for them,” he said.