Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd cast more doubts this afternoon about whether Elizabeth Warren could garner enough votes to head the newly created consumer financial protection bureau, one day after White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called her “very confirmable.”
“I don’t know, that’s the question, how does he know that?” Dodd said in response to a question from TPMDC on his way in to the Democrats’ weekly policy lunch.
“She’s qualified, no question about that. The question is whether she’s confirmable,” Dodd added. “The issue is [if] you can’t confirm somebody, if you go six or seven months without someone in that job, you’ve got a problem.”
Progressives have been strongly pressuring the Obama administration to appoint Warren ever since the Wall Street reform bill passed in Congress. Some have argued that she be given a recess appointment if a minority of senators block her confirmation. Dodd objects to that idea.
“I think that would be a huge mistake,” Dodd said, in response to a question from TPMDC. “Recess appointments. No, no, no.”
“I think those are, you know, Republicans used to do it, I think that’s a mistake,” Dodd added. “Except in the most extreme circumstances where you need someone because of an emergency pending, but as a routine matter, I think it’s a fundamental mistake.”
Dodd’s chief concern, he said, is swiftness. If the agency isn’t set up quickly with credible leadership, it will be vulnerable to GOP attacks.
“You’ve heard the Republicans talking about repealing this bill,” Dodd said. “One of the first efforts they’d need would be to repeal this agency. If it’s not set up and running, the case against it becomes easier. So you want an established entity, as quickly as you can, with credible leadership. And if you don’t have that then you leave it vulnerable to the attacks. They will try to get rid of this agency, I promise you, when I’m gone. So having someone there that’s established this, getting it moving in the right direction, is very, very important, or you could lose it.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.