Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Senate Republicans have “acted like thugs” in threatening to prevent a prominent consumer advocate — or anyone else — from heading a new consumer protection agency.
Frank, the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, criticized Republicans’ vows to hold up the confirmation process until their concerns with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are addressed.
President Obama is eyeing Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: 2024 chatter reveals Democratic nervousness We are America's independent contractors, and we are terrified Fed's Brainard faces GOP pressure on climate stances MORE — a Harvard academic who has long championed the creation of a stand-alone consumer-protection bureau — to head the agency when its work begins on July 21. But Republicans have threatened to gum up the confirmation proceedings until the bureau's powers are curtailed.
A letter from 44 Senate Republicans to Obama earlier this month outlined their demands, including the creation of a board to replace the single director in overseeing the bureau.
The New York Times recently reported that, facing a stalemate, Warren was being urged to consider a Senate run in Massachusetts instead — which Warren's camp has downplayed.
Frank on Thursday said Warren would be a formidable force in the Senate, but he'd prefer to have her as head of the CFPB.
"She'd be a good Senate candidate, but she would be a uniquely valuable director of the [consumer] bureau," Frank told The Hill, noting that Warren has been fighting for years "to get this bureau up and running."
"If the Senate Republicans had not acted like thugs and announced they would [block] the confirmation process, I would have wanted the president still to appoint her," Frank said.
"But if he had appointed her and she was filibustered, then I think she would have been a great candidate for the Senate."
Along with Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMeet the Democrats' last best hope of preserving a House majority Franken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate seat Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour MORE (D-Minn.), Frank has urged Obama to tap Warren using his recess-appointment powers, which enable the president to fill posts without the approval of Congress. Fearing that move, however, Republicans on Thursday announced they would use procedural moves to prevent the chamber from officially going into recess during their week-long Memorial Day vacation.
Asked about the White House response to his requests regarding Warren, Frank declined to comment.
"I can tell you what I tell them," he said, "but not what they tell me."