WASHINGTON—President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate Rohit Chopra, the former student-loan watchdog at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to lead the agency, according to people familiar with the matter.
If confirmed, Mr. Chopra would replace Kathy Kraninger, a Trump-appointed official who has run the bureau since 2018. The decision to tap Mr. Chopra, a Democrat currently serving as a member of the Federal Trade Commission, was expected to be announced along with that of Gary Gensler, Mr. Biden’s expected choice to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, the people said.
A spokesman for Mr. Biden’s transition team declined to comment.
Mr. Chopra previously served as the bureau’s student-loan ombudsman during the Obama administration, where he used his public stage to push student-loan companies to improve their treatment of borrowers. His tactic of applying pressure through public means was a big departure from the more measured style of other financial regulators.
The CFPB has been politically polarizing since its creation in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when President Obama tapped Elizabeth Warren, then a Harvard law professor, to set it up. Mr. Chopra, 38 years old, was an early hire of Ms. Warren, who is now a Democratic senator from Massachusetts.
Democrats have wanted a muscular CFPB to take on what they saw as financial-industry excesses. Republicans and Wall Street have criticized the bureau as an instrument of runaway government regulation, with too much power over a significant slice of the economy.
Progressive groups and consumer advocates have also called on the CFPB to revisit rules softened by the Trump administration, such as a crackdown on payday lenders—who charge high rates of interest on short-term loans—and to revive work on a rule to rein in overdraft fees on checking accounts that was set aside during the Trump administration.
“What we hope for is a comprehensive rule that will address the whole range of problems that overdraft fees pose,” said Rebecca Borné, a senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending.
At the FTC, where he has served since 2018, Mr. Chopra has staked consistently progressive positions on enforcement actions, often writing separate statements saying he wished the commission had taken bolder action in a variety of cases. For example, he and another Democrat on the commission objected to a 2019 settlement in which Facebook Inc. agreed to pay $5 billion over a probe into the tech giant’s privacy missteps, contending it wasn’t tough enough.
Mr. Chopra’s departure could leave Democrats in the minority at the FTC, complicating his move to the CFPB if the Biden administration can’t quickly install Democrats on the trade commission.