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The Senate advanced Kathy Kraninger’s nomination to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a key procedural vote Thursday, putting her one step closer to taking control of the polarizing consumer watchdog agency.

The chamber voted 50 to 49, along party lines, to advance Kraninger’s nomination. A final confirmation vote could come as early as next week.

If confirmed, Kraninger would replace the bureau’s acting director, Mick Mulvaney, who is also the White House budget chief and Kraninger’s current boss. She is expected to continue Mulvaney’s efforts to curtail the powers of the agency, which has long been criticized by Republicans as too aggressive.

The CFPB was born in response to the global financial crisis to police the way banks manage mortgages, credit cards, payday loans and other financial products. As its director, Kraninger would become one of the country’s most powerful banking regulators.

Her nomination took much of Washington by surprise. Kraninger has decades of experience in homeland security, including helping set up the Department of Homeland Security after Sept. 11, 2001, but she has no record as a financial regulator. She has been the associate director of general government at the Office of Management and Budget since 2017.

“Ms. Kraninger has had a distinguished career in public service … and brings significant leadership experience at federal agencies and on Capitol Hill,” Sen. Michael D. Crapo (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said before the vote Thursday.

But without a deep understanding of the history and complexity of consumer finance, Kraninger could become a puppet for influential financial groups, Democrats and consumer groups who oppose her nomination argue.

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