Rep. Frank: GOP opposed Elizabeth Warren because of 'gender bias'

House Financial Services Committee ranking member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on Wednesday said Republicans opposed the naming of Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in part because she is a woman.

"Part of it, I have to say, was gender bias," Frank said on the House floor. "Along with Sheila Bair, recently departed head of the FDIC, Ms. Warren encountered from some people, maybe unconscious on their part, the notion that a very strong-willed woman with strong opinions might have a place, but not in the financial sector. And I regret the loss of both of these."

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Warren was a strong candidate to lead the new bureau after having worked for months to establish it under last year's Dodd-Frank financial reform law. But Republican opposition ultimately led the Obama administration to nominate Richard Cordray to head the bureau.

Still, Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee responded to Frank's remarks by saying it was President Obama who ultimately picked Cordray over Warren, not Republicans.

"Mr. Frank obviously ignores the fact that President Obama could nominate whomever he wanted for this position and he is the one who chose not to nominate Warren," said Jeff Emerson, deputy chief of staff on the committee.

Republicans fought against the creation of the bureau last year, and in hearings this year pressed Warren repeatedly for details about how it would operate, drawing complaints from Democrats that they were treating her in an uncivil manner. Last week, the House voted to put new restraints on the bureau, including creating a five-member board to run it.

Warren has said she will resign her position as special adviser to the CFPB and return to Harvard Law School, which has led to speculation that she might run against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) next year.

On the floor Wednesday morning, Frank added that Republicans likely saw that Warren would have led the CFPB in a way that would have brought real reform to financial services companies, which he said worried these institutions.

"[T]here was also on the part of my most conservative Republican colleagues a recognition that she was a threat," he said.

Frank noted that a joint report from the inspector general of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department found that the CFPB has so far earned a "perfect set of marks" in how it was set up and now operates. Frank added generally that Republicans are going too far by constantly pushing to shrink government.

"We have ideologues here who would have people believe that the government is always a bad thing, that less government is always better," he said.

"I don't regard more firefighting as a bad thing. I don't think research into Alzheimer's and cancer is something we need to limit. I am not opposed to fixing bridges and highways. So this notion that government is always bad is mindless."

-- This story was updated at 2:57 p.m. to add Republican reaction.