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Republicans Strike Down CFPB Director Nomination

Thursday, December 8, 2011 9:49am
Two sides opposing each other with a broken puzzle bridge between them
In a vote of 53 to 45, Republicans blocked the Senate from voting on the nomination of Richard Cordray to be the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
 
President Obama nominated Cordray to lead the CFPB on July 18, 2011, citing Cordray’s time as Ohio’s Attorney General and Ohio’s Treasurer as pillars of credibility.
 
But Republicans have been doing their best to make sure he does not take office. For months now, the Senate floor has been locked in a stalemate, and the CFPB has been unable to operate at its full capability without a director.
 
At a public speech on Tuesday, President Obama lashed out at Republicans who have been prolonging the confirmation of the CFPB’s director. “Republicans in the Senate refuse to confirm [Cordray] for the job; they refuse to let him do his job. Why? Does anybody here think the problem that led to our financial crisis was too much oversight of mortgage lenders or debt collectors?” he asked.
 
“Of course not,” he continued, “Consumers deserve to have someone whose job it is to look out for them. And I intend to make sure they do.”
 
The CFPB was set up by Elizabeth Warren with the intention of providing more protection to consumers when it comes to loans. Spawned by the shortcomings seen with subprime mortgage loans, misleading personal loans and the often criticized predatory payday loan industry, the CFPB was supposed to shield the public from the ambiguous world of financing. With the nomination of Cordray, the CFPB could finally begin to operate at full efficiency.
 
But interestingly, it’s not Cordray himself that Republicans fear. Rather it’s the powers that his position would come with that they disagree with.
 
“I have met Mr. Cordray, and my decision to oppose his confirmation by the Senate has nothing to do with his qualifications. Rather, I feel it is my duty to oppose his confirmation as a part of my opposition to the creation of the CFPB itself,” said Utah Sen. Mike Lee on his blog.
 
Among the powers the CFPB’s director would have are:

  • The ability to ban features of products or entire products that the director deems unfair
  • Access to more than half a billion dollars of government money that can be allocated by the director without congressional approval
  • Access to a 5-year term, and who can only be removed early by the President himself
 
“Confirming any director for this bureau would be tantamount to agreeing that we need a uniquely powerful super-agency that is not even designed to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis. Until the CFPB is reformed, I will not support it in any way,” Lee continued.
 
Republicans have proposed several key changes they would like to see to the CFPB before they would agree to approve a nomination of any director.
 
“This notion that we’re against consumer protection, that we’re trying to gut the CFPB is just silly,” said Sen. David Vitter in a report by the Los Angeles Times.

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