On Monday afternoon, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) made a speech on the Senate floor demanding GOP Senators not filibuster a vote on Richard Cordray, Obama’s nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
The CFPB—Warren’s brainchild—was created as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act and is charged with protecting Americans from shady dealings on the part of banks, credit unions, payday lenders, mortgage-servicing companies, and debt collectors. Ever since its inception, Republicans have been doing all they can to kneecap the agency, which they say “wield[s] nearly unprecedented powers” over Wall Street, as 43 GOP senators wrote in a February letter to the president. Senate Republicans filibustered Cordray after Obama first nominated him to head the CFPB in July 2011. This prompted the president to recess-appoint Cordray six months later (meaning Obama appointed him without Senate approval while they were on recess), which then spurred Republicans to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Cordray’s appointment. (The Supreme Court will review the case in the fall.)
Cordray’s recess appointment term is up at the end of the year, and Republicans are again vowing to filibuster his re-nomination, unless Democrats allow key changes to the CFPB, such as forcing the agency to be subject to the congressional appropriations process so Congress can revoke its funding, and allowing other regulatory agencies to veto CFPB actions, which Democrats have refused to allow.
Warren and other financial reformers charge that Republicans are trying to block Cordray’s confirmation in order to scrap financial reform and “rewrite parts of Dodd-Frank that they don’t like,” as Mike Konczal wrote at the Washington Post in May.
“I know that some Republicans and lobbyists think that this filibuster on Rich’s appointment can shut down the work of the agency,” Warren said Monday on the Senate floor. “They think it can shut down the agency, and protect the big banks from any meaningful consumer protection rules.”
Democrats are so fed up with GOP obstruction of Obama’s nominees that Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is threatening to change Senate rules on executive branch nominations like Cordray’s to allow simple majority of 51 senators to approve nominees instead of the usual 67 needed for to overcome a filibuster.
Warren is down with this idea. “Outside the halls of this Congress and the fancy lobbyist offices across Washington… no one thinks it’s ok to cheat regular people and cut special deals for giant banks,” she said. “And no one wants to take the cops off the beat so big banks can break the rules without being held accountable.”