Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who crafted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of the 2010 financial reform law and initially helped lead it, excoriated Republicans on Tuesday for refusing to confirm a nominee to lead the agency.
“From the way I see how other agencies are treated, I see nothing here but a filibuster threat against Director Cordray as an attempt to weaken the consumer agency,” she said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the CFPB nomination. “I think the delay in getting him confirmed is bad for consumers, it’s bad for small banks, it’s bad for credit unions, it’s bad for anyone trying to offer an honest product in an honest market.
“The American people,” Warren said, “deserve a Congress that worries less about helping big banks and more about helping regular people who have been cheated on mortgages, on credit cards, on student loans, on credit records.”
Warren was responding to the Senate GOP’s promise to block the nomination of Richard Cordray. He currently serves as director of the CFPB under a recess appointment from President Obama (an appointment that might be void under a recent federal appeals court ruling). She herself was the agency’s initial interim director until Republican filibusters forced her out and caused her to run for Senate instead. Now, 43 GOP senators have written a letter pledging to block the confirmation of a director to the CFPB unless Democrats agree to scale back the agency’s authority.
That leaves Democrats with a dilemma: if they don’t overcome the filibuster, they’ll have to decide whether to change the rules, or accept a weakened, director-less CFPB.
“What I want to know is why, since the 1800s, have there been agencies all over Washington with a single director, including the OCC, but unlike the consumer agency, no one in the U.S. Senate has held up confirmation of their directors demanding that the agency be redesigned,” Warren said. “What I want to know is why every banking regulator since the Civil War has been funded outside the appropriations process but unlike the consumer agency no one in the United States Senate has held up confirmation of their directors demanding that that agency or those agencies be redesigned.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.