Republican, consumer bureau's Warren spar over testimony length

The architect of the new consumer protection bureau got into a nasty argument with Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) Tuesday, after a dispute over how long she would be required to testify at a House subcommittee hearing prompted the Republican to accuse her of lying.

Warren was appearing before McHenry's Oversight subpanel at a hearing devoted to oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which President Obama has charged her with setting up.

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After an hour of questions from lawmakers — including several spirited back-and-forths with Republicans — the panel attempted to recess so members could attend floor votes.

Warren got up to leave, but was told by McHenry that two members, including full Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), still had questions for her.

Warren responded that she understood she was free to leave after the hour, as she had other appointments on her schedule. It went downhill from there.

"That was never the pledge," said McHenry.

In response, Warren accused Republicans of making repeated changes to the schedule late into the previous day.

"Congressman, when you asked to change the time four times in the last 12 hours, including waking people up at home last night to change the time again — " she began.

McHenry interrupted, saying, "Let me be direct with you, I never made a single phone call about this."

"I never heard you had to leave at 2:15," he added.

"Congressman, you might want to have a conversation with your staff," responded Warren.

McHenry then refused to recess the hearing as members left for votes.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the full committee, pressured McHenry to allow Warren to leave.

"She kept her side of the bargain and now it's time for you to keep yours," he said.

McHenry maintained that GOP staff never promised Warren she would be free to leave after an hour, and would merely try to accommodate the request.

"I'm not trying to cause you problems, Miss Warren," he said.

"Congressman, you are causing problems," she responded. "We had an agreement. ... I committed to you based on representations of your staff."

"You had no agreement," responded McHenry.

"We had an agreement," she rebutted.

"You're making this up, Miss Warren," said McHenry.

At that point, Cummings interjected.

"Mr. Chairman, you just did something that — I'm trying to be cordial here, but you just accused the lady of lying," he said.

Warren then offered to respond to the remaining questions in writing, so they could be entered into the public record.

McHenry maintained again that his staff never guaranteed just an hour of testimony.

"I understand your frustration, but I ask you just to see my side of these things as well ... because I thought I had you for more time," he said.

He agreed to let Warren respond to the remaining questions in writing, and allowed her to depart from the hearing as the panel recessed.