March 10, 2021

Toomey Opposes Gensler, Chopra Nominations

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today announced he will not be supporting Gary Gensler, nominee for Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman, or Rohit Chopra, nominee for Director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In his remarks during today’s markup, Senator Toomey reiterated concerns that both Mr. Gensler and Commissioner Chopra may seek to use the regulatory powers of their respective agencies to impose burdensome regulations and advance a liberal social agenda.

Ranking Member Toomey’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Unfortunately, I cannot support the two nominees we are voting on today, Gary Gensler for SEC Chairman and Rohit Chopra for CFPB Director.

Based on Commissioner Chopra’s record, I’m deeply concerned that he’d return the CFPB to the hyper-active, law breaking, anti-business, unaccountable agency it was under Obama Administration.

At the CFPB and FTC, he’s taken aggressive anti-business stances. And we know from his statements and writings that he favors unaccountable regulators with vast powers. 

Nothing Commissioner Chopra said at his hearing—or since—has alleviated my concerns.

For example, I asked him in a question for the record whether there was a single CFPB enforcement action or rule that he believed was too burdensome or punitive.

Even though he spent five years in a leadership position at the CFPB, he could not identify a single one, despite the well-known evidence that CFPB’s actions limited consumer choice, drove up the cost of credit, and hamstrung job creators through overregulation.

I am also troubled by his past accusation that my colleagues and I who support structural accountability for the CFPB are “shilling for predatory lenders,” and that “there’s no real good argument for it other than representing those who are essentially breaking the law.”

When I asked him about this statement at his hearing he responded, in part, by continuing to defend the CFPB’s unaccountable structure.

Similarly, nothing Mr. Gensler said at his hearing—or since—has alleviated my concerns about him.

There’s no doubt that Mr. Gensler knows a lot about securities markets.

But based on his record, I’m concerned he will stray from the SEC’s tradition of bipartisanship by using the agency’s regulatory powers to advance a liberal social agenda on issues such as climate change, political spending, and racial inequality.

The securities laws are not the appropriate vehicle to address social and cultural issues.

When I pressed Mr. Gensler on this subject, he provided no assurances that he would not use the SEC to pursue a liberal social agenda.

For example, I asked him whether it’s a good idea for companies to be forced or pressured to comply with quotas with respect to race, gender, and sexual orientation of their board members.

In response, Mr. Gensler echoed what advocates for such quotas typically say, which is that diversity on boards benefits decision-making.

I also asked him whether a company’s financially insignificant spending on energy or political advocacy constitutes material information that must be disclosed to investors.

In response, he essentially indicated that if a large number of politically motivated activist investors want to know certain information—for example, information related to climate change or political spending—then it’s material, even if it’s financially insignificant.

Based on Mr. Gensler’s answers to questions from other Senators about recent stock market volatility, I’m also concerned that he’s sympathetic to the paternalistic push by some on the Left to impose regulations that would make investing more expensive and difficult for retail investors.

In the end, this nomination process has not alleviated my concerns about Mr. Gensler and Commissioner Chopra. Instead, it has reinforced and heightened those concerns. As a result, I cannot support their nominations.