Republican lawmaker: Obama recess appointment is attack on Constitution

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) on Wednesday predicted that the Obama administration's decision to recess-appoint Richard Cordray as director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) would lead to numerous legal challenges against the agency that will render it unable to function for the foreseeable future.

"President Obama has delegitimized the CFPB and has opened the agency up to legitimate legal challenges that will cripple it for years," Bachus said. "The greatest threat to our economy right now is uncertainty, and the president just guaranteed there will be even more uncertainty."

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Bachus did not threaten a legal challenge from Congress, and others have suggested that only a financial institution that is harmed by a CFPB rule would have the standing to challenge Cordray's appointment.

Still, Bachus was one of a several Republicans who blasted the Cordray nomination as an end-run around what had been an established rule that no recess appointments can be made as long as the Senate is meeting in occasional, pro forma sessions. The Senate met in a pro forma session Tuesday and has another one planned for Friday.

Bachus said the decision to ignore this precedent is an attack on the Constitution.

"The President's unprecedented decision to attempt to circumvent the Constitution and ignore the law he himself signed is the clearest indication yet that he has abandoned any effort to work in a bipartisan manner to strengthen accountability and oversight of this new government bureaucracy," he said.

Bachus said Republicans have sought to modify the CFPB, including by creating a five-member board to run the agency and setting up a process for reviewing CFPB rules. These changes were included in a bill that passed the House last year.

The sponsor of that bill, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), also complained about the recess appointment on Wednesday.

"I am deeply disappointed in President Obama's decision to circumvent Congress and completely disregard our government's system of checks and balances in order to appoint a director to the flawed CFPB," Duffy said.

Duffy noted that more than 40 senators told Obama last year that they would oppose any nomination to the CFPB as it currently stands. "President Obama's decision to ignore these concerns has set a horrible precedent of allowing the president to side-step Congress and the American people at his own convenience," he said.

One of the signatories to the Senate letter, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), said Wednesday that he too is "deeply disappointed" in the White House announcement.

"Republicans have asked the president to work with us to give the newly created — and extremely powerful — board a level of transparency and accountability," Johanns said. "Americans don't want another unelected czar with no accountability appointed by this administration. But the president is choosing to dismiss these concerns in favor of political convenience."