Conservatives fear Senate deal on nominees will embolden regulators

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Conservatives say Obama has used the power of his administration to bypass lawmakers, and have long warned of a regulatory tsunami during his second term, when he no longer has to worry about reelection.
 
In addition to Cordray, the Senate this week is likely to confirm Gina McCarthy to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Thomas Perez to be the next labor secretary. 

Together, the new agency heads will oversee the development of some of the more than 2,400 active regulatory actions, according to an analysis performed by George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center.
 
In addition to Cordray, the Senate this week is likely to confirm Gina McCarthy to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Thomas Perez to be the next labor secretary.

McCarthy and Perez will oversee the development of some of the more than 2,400 active regulatory actions, according to an analysis performed by George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center.
 
In the administration’s spring roadmap for new rules, the CFPB indicated that it would expand its oversight of debt collectors, payday lenders and mortgage lending in coming months.
 
Similarly, the Labor Department says it plans later this year to issue long-delayed proposals to regulate workplace exposure to the dust from silica and advisers of retirement accounts.
 
With Perez at the Labor Department’s helm, some worry the rules will be especially unkind to businesses.
 
“The pattern of Mr. Perez’s official life strongly suggests a willingness to use or ignore the law in service of ideological ends,” Matt Patterson, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said in an email. “At the Department of Labor, he will wield enormous regulatory power over every business in America, and every employer in the nation would rightly ask themselves: Can I get a fair shake under this man?"
 
A spokeswoman with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told The Hill that the business organization expects “many pending regulations that the agencies, under the leadership of these nominees, would be issuing.”
 
“We have concerns about any regulations that have the potential to harm economic growth and job creation, and this is something we’ll continue to watch and weigh in on when appropriate,” the spokeswoman added.

In other agencies, including the EPA, Senate-confirmed leaders have influence and leverage that acting directors simply do not, according to Patrick McLaughlin, Peirce’s colleague at the Mercatus Center.
 
“Though the agency is going to make rules, the head can perhaps influence them to make rules on certain topics that the head thinks is more important,” he said.
 
As an example, he pointed to Lisa Jackson’s tenure as EPA administrator, during which time she made a point of advocating for environmental justice issues.
 
Cordray has served as acting director of the CFPB since he was appointed during a Senate recess last January, though the constitutional validity of that appointment has been hotly debated. The Supreme Court has agreed to review a case on the appointment of two members to the National Labor Relations Board that were made concurrently with Cordray.
 
However, the Senate’s confirmation would likely make questions about Cordray’s authority moot.
 
“The confirmation settles any questions that may have been posed," said Alex Pollock, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
 
The Financial Services Roundtable “applauded” Cordray’s term as acting director of the CFPB, but worried that the agency was too heavily concentrated in the authority of one man, a fear Republicans share.
 
“Our members strongly believe the CFPB should operate under a more democratic structure, with a board instead of a single director, as well as be subject to a more accountable system of funding,” Tim Pawlenty, president and chief executive officer of the financial trade group, said in a statement.