On January 20, the White House announced the acting agency leadership in the next phase of the transition of government. As part of that transition, President Joe Biden appointed Dave Uejio to serve as the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This news followed on the same day Director Kraninger, appointed by former President Donald Trump, resigned to adhere to the wishes of the new administration.
Earlier this month, then President-elect Joe Biden nominated Rohit Chopra, currently a Federal Trade Commission commissioner, to serve as the third director of the CFPB. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act does not allow Chopra to serve as acting director because he has been officially nominated.
Uejio, a nine-year veteran of the CFPB, will lead the bureau in the interim until Chopra is confirmed by the Senate and sworn in. Uejio currently serves as the chief strategy officer, and he previously served as the acting deputy chief of staff and lead for talent acquisition.
The CFPB has been tasked with making sure that financial rules are followed and safeguarding consumers, as well as regulating the reverse mortgage industry at the national level. Acting Director Uejio has indicated he does not want to be a passive substitute awaiting Chopra’s confirmation. Uejio vocalized that he does not intend to merely function as a steward, but that he plans to serve as the interim CFPB director to work closely with Congress to take all available measures to protect consumers. He also announced that he will focus on the new administration’s priorities ahead of Chopra’s confirmation, including tending to the needs of consumers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and racial inequities in lending. Uejio, with his breadth of knowledge of the CFPB and policy issues, is expected to work closely with Chopra during the transition.
Earlier in January, the bureau’s Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law published a list of 100 recommendations in a report intended for the CFPB, along with Congress and state and federal regulators. The recommendations include authorizing the bureau to provide licenses to non-depository institutions that offer lending, money transmission, and payments services; growing access to the payment system to include those who are underbanked or unbanked; and interfacing “with other agencies to create a unified regulatory regime for new and innovative technologies providing services similar to banks.”
The CFPB, under Chopra’s leadership and as part of furthering President Biden’s fight against discrimination, may have an initial concentration on fair lending rules, including rescinding recent guidance that made it harder for the bureau to charge companies with committing abusive practices and strictly enforcing cases for unfair and deceptive acts.
The CFPB under Chopra is also expected to closely examine the COVID-19 response from banks, consumer reporting agencies, debt collectors, and mortgage and student loan servicers. While under Kraninger’s previous leadership, financial services companies would not necessarily face regulatory scrutiny if they showed “good-faith” efforts to provide loan forbearance and consumer relief under the CARES Act; that lenience may end when Chopra takes his position as the next CFPB director.