Dems blast Trump for overriding consumer bureau with temporary pick

Top Democratic lawmakers and consumer-rights groups are blasting President Trump’s decision to appoint an acting director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), superseding a chosen successor for the post.

Trump nominated White House budget chief Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Trump pick to head watchdog agency is who consumers need Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE to serve as acting director of the CFPB on Friday following Director Richard Cordray’s resignation. The move is meant to prevent Cordray’s hand-picked temporary successor, Deputy Director Leandra English, from leading the CFPB until a permanent leader is sworn in.

White House officials insisted on Saturday that Trump has the authority to override the CFPB’s order of the succession.

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Prominent Democrats who’ve fiercely defended the CFPB under Cordray called Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney an illegal attempt to destroy the agency from within.

“The Dodd-Frank Act is clear: if there is a @CFPB Director vacancy, the Deputy Director becomes Acting Director. @realDonaldTrump can’t override that," tweeted Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal On The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy MORE (D-Mass.), the CFPB’s architect. 

“[Trump] can nominate the next @CFPB Director - but until that nominee is confirmed by the Senate, Leandra English is the Acting Director under the Dodd-Frank Act,” Warren added.

Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, called Mulvaney “an unacceptable candidate to lead the Consumer Bureau.”

"[Mulvaney] has not only expressed noxious views about the important work that the Consumer Bureau does to protect hardworking Americans, he has also worked to destroy it,” Waters said in statement.

While serving as a congressman before joining the Trump administration, Mulvaney sponsored bills to eliminate the CFPB and backed other legislation to put it under closer legislative oversight.

Waters also objected to Mulvaney serving as director of the Office of Management and Budget  while leading the CFPB.

She expressed concerns that Mulvaney sitting on the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Financial Stability Oversight Council as the acting CFPB head would give the White House “an alarming degree of direct control over financial regulation, supervision, and enforcement.”

“It is inappropriate for Trump’s sitting Director of the Office of Management and Budget to simultaneously lead the Consumer Bureau, which is an independent agency,” Waters said.

Several groups aligned with Cordray's CFPB have also insisted that Mulvaney step aside.

The National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit focused on consumer rights, called Mulvaney’s appointment “an illegal affront to the American public.”

“In an attempt to install a wrecking ball at the helm of the consumer watchdog, President Trump has ignored the law that dictates that the consumer bureau’s deputy director takes over until Congress can confirm a new director,” said Lauren Saunders, the center's associate director.

Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, called Mulvaney’s appointment “unlawful.”

“Leandra English is the rightful Acting Director of the Bureau,” Calhoun said. “Naming Mick Mulvaney — someone who’s adamantly anti-consumer — rewards financial predators and fails to put consumers first.”

The White House defended Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney on Saturday, insisting the Federal Vacancies Act empowers Trump to override the CFPB line of succession.

The Vacancies Act allows the president to appoint any Senate-confirmed official as acting director of an agency or department.

One senior administration official said the CFPB’s line of succession “continues to be available as a default," but that “the Vacancies Act is also there as a way that the president can supersede the way those agency statutes work.”

“The common objections that you hear in these various blog posts online is that ‘Oh, the CFPB statue said the CFPB deputy director shall serve as the director,' ” the official said. “That’s clear in lots of these statues that the Vacancies Act trumps."