Dems hopeful Cordray will advance, delaying nuclear showdown

Senate Democrats are optimistic that enough Republicans might be willing to cross the aisle Tuesday morning to advance the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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A successful vote to advance Cordray would give Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican leaders eight hours of post-cloture debate to hash out a compromise on the nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters Thursday night that Republicans might allow Cordray to proceed to a final vote, noting “the NLRB is the real point of contention.”

He said Republicans will have difficulty accepting them because President Obama recess-appointed them to the board in January 2012 — the same day he tapped Cordray for the consumer protection bureau.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled the NLRB appointments invalid because the Senate was holding ceremonial pro-forma sessions when the administration claimed it was in recess.

The labor board ran afoul of Republicans, especially Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), two years ago when it accused Boeing of violating federal labor laws when it attempted to open an aircraft plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state.

Graham has called the agency “the Grim Reaper of job creation.”

If the Senate votes to end debate on Cordray, setting up a final vote for later in the day or tomorrow, chamber rules require eight hours of post-cloture time to elapse.

That would give Reid and McConnell more time to find a compromise over the recess-appointed NLRB members, Sharon Block and Richard Griffin Jr.

Reid called on Republicans at a joint caucus meeting Monday night to support Cordray. He needs six Republicans to join with 54 Democrats to advance the nominee.

“The leader kept asking for six Republicans. ‘We need six Republicans. We just need six Republicans. Six Republicans come with us then that’s it. Then all these nominees can be approved.’ He said that’s the answer,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said.

Republicans have held up Cordray, who once clerked for conservative Judge Robert Bork and centrist Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, to demand changes to the Consumer Protection Bureau, a key reform of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

Republicans want to replace the bureau’s sole director with a bipartisan board of directors and make its funding subject to congressional appropriations to increase lawmaker’s influence over it.

A senior GOP aide said it’s not certain how the Republican conference will vote on Cordray.

“We’ll have to see how the vote plays out. I don’t know that anybody has an official number on it,” said the aide.

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