Progressive pressure on President Obama to appoint Elizabeth Warren to head a soon-to-be-created consumer financial protection bureau has reached a fever pitch. But in a troubling sign for her supporters, the White House is remaining mum, and key senators aren’t rallying to her defense. In some cases quite the opposite.
“Elizabeth can be a terrific nominee but the question is, is she confirmable? And there is a serious question about that,” said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd during an interview on NPR Monday.
When the key senator who will have to shepherd any nomination through committee uses the likelihood of a successful filibuster as a reason to call something into doubt, the writing may well be on the wall.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) — often a kingmaker on close-call legislation and confirmations — says he doesn’t know if Warren has the votes, but that he’s going to wait for President Obama to make his announcement. “I don’t know who the President’s going to nominate. When the president makes that nomination then I’ll take a very close look at that person,” he told TPM yesterday. “Rather than comment on Elizabeth Warren, I’m ready to wait and see who the President nominates. Because this may all be academic, if he has somebody else in mind, somebody else may emerge, and then I’d have my views on that person.”
Other key Senators, including Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), were entirely mum about Warren, saying only that their constituents in financial services have not weighed in on her candidacy one way or another. Menendez is a member of the Banking Committee and has dealt with Warren extensively.
“I hope the President will nominate a thoughtful, balanced person,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), also a member of the Banking Committee. “If he nominates a zealot or an activist, I think it will bring to life our greatest fears about this consumer protection agency.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.