President Obama lashed out at Republicans for refusing to confirm former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the nearly five-month old watchdog that is suppose to protect Americans from unfair lending practices.
Cordray’s nomination was blocked on a Senate motion Thursday to end debate, with a 53-45 vote – 60 votes are required to move the nomination ahead.
Consumer advocates and Cordray backers now want Obama to employ a little-used Constitutional authority that would effectively force the House and Senate chambers to adjourn, which could open the door to a recess appointment. However, Republican leaders might seek to prevent such a move by keeping the Senate technically in session throughout the holidays.
“Do Republicans in Congress think our financial crisis was caused by too much oversight of mortgage lenders or debt collectors?” Obama said in his weekly address. “Of course not. And every day America has to wait for a new consumer protection watchdog is another day that dishonest businesses can target and take advantage of students, seniors and service members.”
Though GOP lawmakers have praised Cordray’s qualifications —they have pledged to prevent the confirmation of any candidate until significant structural changes are made to the bureau, a component of the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation
Republicans have opposed the wide scope of authority granted the watchdog group, which Democrats say is necessary in the wake of lending abuses that sparked the financial crisis and housing market meltdown. Republicans want the director’s responsibilities replaced by a five-member commission and are seeking tighter oversight of the agency by other regulatory bodies.
“As the former Attorney General of Ohio, Richard helped recover billions of dollars on behalf of retirees and stood up to dishonest lending practices,” the president said. “… I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer,” the president said. “Financial institutions have plenty of high-powered lawyers and lobbyists looking out for them. It’s time consumers had someone on their side.”
The CPFB inherited many of the consumer-oriented divisions of existing federal agencies.
The bureau needs to “streamline and simplify rules” to ensure that consumer lending and other services work properly and that lenders provide sufficient transparency, said Raj Date, the CPFB’s acting director, in prepared Congressional testimony last month.
- Amazon’s Price Check App Stirs Small Business Outcry
- With Green Monday Here, Online Sales Already Up 15% to $24.6 Billion