WASHINGTON — Kathy Kraninger, President Trump’s nominee to take over the nation’s watchdog for banks, credit card companies and payday lenders, made her public debut Thursday in front of the Senate Banking Committee, where she faced extremely hostile questioning from Democrats.

Democratic senators called into question her qualifications to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well as her role in the Trump administration’s immigration policy as part of her current job with the Office of Management and Budget. But with a 51-seat Republican majority, Kraninger’s nomination to run the bureau is likely to be confirmed. Trump nominated Kraninger on June 18 to replace Mick Mulvaney, the administration’s budget director, who has been acting director of the consumer bureau since late November. Mulvaney has taken the bureau in a more business-friendly direction than his predecessor Richard Cordray, President Barack Obama’s director.

Before her nomination, Kraninger, 43, was a relatively unknown mid-level bureaucrat working inside the OMB, overseeing roughly $250 billion in federal government programs.

Kraninger’s nomination has been somewhat controversial because she has no experience in banking or financial services.

“Now (Mick Mulvaney) wants his protege to run the agency. She has no experience whatsoever in consumer protection,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the top Democrat on the committee.

The White House and Republicans argue that Kraninger’s experience at the OMB, where she arranged programs for large government departments like Homeland Security and the Federal Reserve, makes her qualified as a manager for a large government bureau.

“Given her depth and diversity of public service experience, I have the utmost confidence that she is well-prepared to lead the bureau in enforcing federal consumer financial laws and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace,” Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said at the hearing’s start.

Thursday’s hearing was Kraninger’s first public appearance since her nomination. Her positions on various issues facing the consumer bureau – from its regulations on payday loans to how aggressive she would be in going after big banks for wrongdoing – were largely unknown coming in. She gave mostly non-answers when asked about the bureau’s recent changes to its approach, such as pulling back on enforcement actions against financial companies.

Kraninger’s prepared remarks called for the bureau to be “fair and transparent” and to “empower consumers to make good choices and provide certainty for market participants.”

One of Kraninger’s biggest critics has been Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, who has vocally opposed her nomination from the start. The bureau is Warren’s brainchild – she proposed such a bureau when she was a professor at Harvard University.

Warren focused most of her questioning on Kraninger’s role in setting and implementing the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents who crossed the border illegally.

In her current role at the White House, Kraninger oversaw budget requests from the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies. The DHS is responsible for implementing the administration’s immigration policies.

In response to a question from Warren, who asked for Kraninger’s opinion on the Trump child separation policy, she said, “It is not appropriate to give my opinion.”

An exasperated Warren took her non-answer as a signal that she was involved in some way.

“You were part of it. It is moral stain that will follow you for the rest of your life.”

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