Republicans in the Senate have refused vote for any director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until the agency is weakened. Without a director, the CFPB's powers are more limited.
This morning, the White House announced it would appoint Richard Cordray as director in a recess appointment. Senate Republicans have tried to block such a move by keeping a Senator or two on the job, so there is no recess. But apparently the White House had enough, according to this press release on its website:
"The Constitution gives the President the authority to make temporary recess appointments to fill vacant positions when the Senate is in recess, a power all recent Presidents have exercised. The Senate has effectively been in recess for weeks, and is expected to remain in recess for weeks. In an overt attempt to prevent the President from exercising his authority during this period, Republican Senators insisted on using a gimmick called “pro forma” sessions, which are sessions during which no Senate business is conducted and instead one or two Senators simply gavel in and out of session in a matter of seconds. But gimmicks do not override the President’s constitutional authority to make appointments to keep the government running. Legal experts agree. In fact, the lawyers who advised President Bush on recess appointments wrote that the Senate cannot use sham “pro forma” sessions to prevent the President from exercising a constitutional power.
Because of the President’s leadership and decisive action, the American people will have a consumer watchdog fighting tooth and nail on their behalf. The President knows this is a make or break moment for the middle class and he’ll continue to build an economy that’s based on the values of fairness and shared responsibility. Today’s announcement is a critical piece to strengthen the economy and restore the economic security for the middle class and those trying to reach it. Mr. Cordray is the right man for the job and we’re pleased he’s finally in place to continue his important work."
Consumer advocates are ecstatic.
U.S PIRG's Ed Mierzwinski emailed this statement:
"Today, President Obama is taking a bold and important step to protect consumers from financial tricks and traps by announcing a recess appointment of his well-qualified nominee, Richard Cordray, to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The appointment bypasses Senate opponents who have pledged to block any director unless the bureau is first weakened in a manner approved by Wall Street. The confirmation of a director also grants the bureau, which has been running since July, all of its new powers to protect consumers. We applaud President Obama for standing up to Wall Street and its backers on Capitol Hill on behalf of families, seniors, servicemembers, students and other consumers who need protection from unfair financial practices."
Progressive Change Campaign Committee Co-Founder Adam Green writes:
"The consumer protection agency is the house that Elizabeth Warren built. This recess appointment of Rich Cordray pushes aside some of Wall Streets biggest protectors, and now the job of holding Wall Street and big corporations accountable can finally be done the way Elizabeth Warren envisioned -- carried out by one of her allies."