House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday criticized President Trump's apparent choice to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, claiming Republicans are putting the interests of banks and financial firms ahead of consumers.

"The Trump Administration’s nominee to lead the Bureau has an opportunity to be a champion for consumers and not the financial industry," Pelosi said in a statement. "But her apparent lack of experience in consumer finance, coupled with the Administration’s hostility to consumer protection, raises questions about her qualifications to lead such an important agency."

The apparent nominee, Kathy Kraninger, has no experience in consumer finance. She is currently acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney's deputy at the Office of Management and Budget, but spent most of her career at the Department of Homeland Security.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Kraninger's "lack of experience in consumer finance, coupled with the Administration’s hostility to consumer protection, raises questions about her qualifications to lead such an important agency," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Bloomberg News

She faces a potentially grueling confirmation battle. If she is opposed by Democrats, holding up her nomination, Mulvaney's tenure at the CFPB could be significantly extended.

Pelosi said Republicans "have fought relentlessly to destroy the bureau," which was created by the Dodd-Frank Act in the aftermath of the financial crisis to protect consumers from fraud and abuse.

"Democrats and the American people will hold Republicans accountable for their cynical big bank and big corporate donor-first agenda that put the interests of big banks and corporations before those of hard-working families," Pelosi said in the statement.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a press release that working families "need a CFPB Director who will fight for them."

"For months I have called for a CFPB Director with a track record of holding Wall Street and payday lenders accountable," Brown said. "The White House should pick an experienced, serious, independent leader.”

But John Czwartacki, the CFPB's chief spokesman, suggested in a tweet Monday that critics were unfairly questioning the choice of Kraninger because of her gender.

Linking to an earlier social media post from a former George W. Bush administration official, Czwartacki tweeted: "A powerful observation about the role sexism is playing in the opposition to Kathy Kraninger. In 2018, this is so sad."

Meanwhile, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, heaped praise on Kraninger and Mulvaney while criticizing the CFPB.

"I am especially pleased that President Trump nominated an individual with management and budget experience — two qualities that are desperately needed at an agency which has been plagued with cost overruns and unnecessary spending and does not have a full-time and an independent Inspector General," Hensarling said in a statement.

Republicans, he said, are trying to "reform the Bureau into a law enforcement agency that truly protects consumers and is accountable to the people's elected representatives."

Since taking over the CFPB in November, Mulvaney has issued just two enforcement actions, including one against Wells Fargo that was a holdover from his Democratic predecessor, Richard Cordray.