Cordray called to testify on consumer bureau's 'unparalleled powers'

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Cordray was the subject of a partisan firestorm Wednesday, after President Obama opted to circumvent Republican opposition and recess-appoint him to head the new agency, created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

Exacerbating GOP ire is the fact that Republicans do not consider the Senate to technically be in recess, because several brief pro forma hearings have been held during the holiday break in an effort to block such recess appointments. Several Republican lawmakers have called Obama's move unprecedented, with some suggesting it violates the Constitution.

McHenry said in his letter that the appointment is in "apparent contravention of constitutional requirements."

However, White House attorneys have concluded that the seconds-long pro forma sessions do not actually prevent a recess, freeing the president to push through picks during congressional breaks.

The CFPB declined to comment on whether Cordray would agree to testify, but if he did, he would be squaring off against a GOP lawmaker with a history of feuding with the CFPB.

McHenry and Elizabeth Warren, the president's adviser in charge of setting up the bureau, got into a public fight in May over how long Warren had agreed to testify before the subcommittee he chairs. After a heated back-and-forth, McHenry ultimately accused Warren of lying about there being an agreement requiring her to testify for only an hour.

The exchange dominated headlines and drove partisan sparring for several days, with several House Democrats actually calling on McHenry to apologize for the exchange. He did not.

After being passed over for the director position in favor of Cordray, Warren launched an election campaign in a bid replace Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in 2012.