Trump should fill CFPB vacancy with Export-Import chief

Trump should fill CFPB vacancy with Export-Import chief
© Greg Nash

Following Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordraySherrod Brown says he will not run for president CFPB confusing 'freedom of choice' with 'freedom to be fleeced' Consumer bureau chief to face lawmakers for first time since confirmation MORE’s resignation at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a surreal fight over leadership occurred for about 24 hours between the Trump administration and liberal activists led by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenElizabeth Warren after TMZ catches her sprinting to catch train: 'Try and keep up' Senate gears up for Green New Deal vote Senate GOP proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats MORE (D-Mass.). Ultimately the courts sided with the Trump administration, at least through the first round of legal challenges. 

Their ruling allows Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump golfs with Graham, Gowdy and Mulvaney as White House awaits Mueller findings White House rejects Dem request for documents on Trump-Putin communications Consumer bureau chief reverses efforts to sideline advisory panels MORE to serve as interim CFPB director while simultaneously running the Office of Management and Budget. It's now up to the Trump administration to appoint a long-term successor to lead the agency.

Here’s an idea that solves two problems for the administration at once.


President Trump can move his existing choice to run the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank, former Congressman Scott GarrettErnest (Scott) Scott GarrettManufacturers support Reed to helm Ex-Im Bank Trump taps nominee to lead Export-Import Bank Who has the edge for 2018: Republicans or Democrats? MORE (R-N.J.), instead nominating him to take over for Cordray at CFPB. This idea is gaining steam in conservative circles, as influential radio host Hugh Hewitt suggested the idea recently.


The political reality is that Garrett has a very rocky road ahead in the Senate to lead the Ex-Im Bank, with Democrats unanimously opposed and various Republicans unnerved by his opposition to the bank's very existence, including Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenate votes to confirm Neomi Rao to appeals court Breaking down barriers for American military families Top House Dem dismisses reparations as 2020 candidates endorse idea MORE (R-S.C.), Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsGOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers Trump's emergency declaration looms over Pentagon funding fight Overnight Defense: Pentagon asked to house up to 5,000 migrant children | Judge lifts last injunction against transgender ban | Senators voice anger over problems with military housing | General warns ISIS waiting to resurge MORE (R-S.D.), and maybe even more. 

By moving Garrett to CFPB, Trump could achieve for conservatives what many on the right hoped Garrett's Ex-Im nomination would do.

The president needs to act fast, as OMB is a much more consequential agency, and one that can’t have its leader away for long given current budget fights on Capitol Hill.

That’s another reason Garrett makes so much sense — he’s already been going through vetting for a job in the Administration and wouldn’t have to start at square one like everyone else.

And while he may not be the perfect fit at Ex-Im, he may be exactly what is needed at the CFPB. 

The CFPB is as hated an institution as Ex-Im among conservative activists and may very well be unconstitutional, and Garrett could promise to drastically curb its regulatory power and dismantle it from the inside.

Trump has made clear his disdain for the CFPB, calling it “a total disaster.” In fact, you’d find few Republicans who will stand up and defend it. If you’re looking for a strong conservative to dismantle it, Garrett’s the man for the job.

While there have been other good names floated to lead the CFPB, like Rep. Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingThe next two years of federal housing policy could be positive under Mark Calabria Why Ocasio-Cortez should make flood insurance reform a priority Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch MORE (R-Texas), it again comes down to the politics of it. The president has already appointed sitting members to his cabinet from districts and states we never though would be competitive.

But the party spent millions of dollars in Georgia and Montana, and now may be facing a loss in the Alabama Senate race to replace Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: Should the media apologize to Donald Trump? After Mueller, Democrats need to avoid the Javert trap Mueller probe: A timeline from beginning to end MORE’ seat. Republicans can’t afford to fight for these easy districts if they want to retain the House in 2018.

The advantage for the administration is that Garrett’s nomination to lead CFPB would be much less controversial and much more likely to pass, as the business community (the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable, etc.) almost certainly wouldn't fight his nomination nearly as fiercely as they are fighting his appointment to Ex-Im. Not to mention the CFPB gets the reformer it needs.

It’s win-win.

Matt Mackowiak is the president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group, a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. His national politics podcast, “Mack on Politics,” may be found on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and on the web at