The freshly recess-appointed head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dismissed concerns about the legitimacy of his recess appointment, and says he’ll discharge his duties as the nation’s top consumer watchdog as if he’d landed in the director’s chair in a less contentious way.
“I have been appointed as the director of the Bureau,” Cordray said at a Brookings Institute event Thursday. “It’s a valid appointment. But I will leave those details to others.”
President Obama circumvented a GOP filibuster and appointed Cordray to his new role Wednesday. In so doing, he ignored a Republican parliamentary maneuver, used by both parties in the past, meant to prevent Presidents from exercising their Constitutional recess appointment power.
The move has ignited a Constitutional controversy over the extent of the executive branch’s recess appointment power. Infuriated top Republicans have gone so far as to suggest they’ll challenge this and three other appointments in court.
In response to another reporters question, Cordray said he will not let potential legal challenges to his legitimacy slow him down.
“The answer to that question is ‘no,’” Cordray said. “I don’t say that in any sort of militant or challenging way. But the law of the land gives us certain responsibilities. They’re important responsibilities. They matter to the people of this country that we carry them out. With the director in place…we now have our full authorities to move forward. And we will do that.”
In an illustration of that commitment, the CFPB today announced a new program aimed at ensuring that non-bank actors — mortgage lenders, pay day lenders, and other financial entities — comply with existing consumer protection laws.
Additionally, the CFPB is revisiting a host of regulations it inherited from other agencies — many of which were written years ago and have failed — and will act against financial firms that break the law.
“The consumer bureau will make clear that there are real consequences to breaking the law,” Cordray said in his prepared remarks. “We have given informants and whistleblowers direct access to us. We took over a number of investigations from other agencies in July, and we are pursuing some investigations jointly with them. We have also started our own investigations. Some may be resolved through cooperative efforts to correct problems. Others may require enforcement actions to stop illegal behavior.”
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.