Frank: Obama's 'intention' is to appoint head of new consumer bureau

House Democrats launched a broadside attack on Senate Republicans Thursday over the GOP blockade of any nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Accusing that group of abusing the nomination powers granted it under the Constitution, a coalition of 89 House members called on the president to name Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Biden .5T budget proposes major hike in social programs | GOP bashes border, policing provisions Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists POW/MIA flag moved back atop White House MORE as head of the bureau, using a recess appointment if necessary.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said he had spoken with members of the administration, and that a recess appointment to head the CFPB is on the table if Republicans continue blocking votes on any nominees.

"It is their intention, as I understand it, to appoint someone, and if there's no chance of confirmation, then by recess appointment," he said. "They don't want to let it go."


Republicans maneuvered to block a recess appointment by holding several pro forma sessions this week while the Senate was gone for a weeklong Memorial Day break. Under the Constitution, neither chamber can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other.

But Frank maintained that the president would be able to recess-appoint Warren during those three-day breaks between sessions. While the president customarily waits for longer breaks to make recess appointments, "the rules are out the window," he said.

"Senate Republicans are using their confirmation powers in a way never intended by the Framers of the Constitution," said Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.).

"Those who are blocking Elizabeth Warren from even being nominated are members of 'The Financial Crisis Never Happened Caucus,' " said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). "It's time for the president to appoint her to the director's job — regardless of her misguided Senate opponents."

In May, a filibuster-proof bloc of 44 Republican senators announced they would block any nominee to head the CFPB unless several changes were made to the bureau.

Republicans characterized the changes as adding much-needed oversight to the bureau, but Democrats said Thursday that they were mere attempts to "destroy" the agency.

Several lawmakers even suggested that there is a gender component to the strong opposition to Warren.

"When the other side can't win arguments on the merits — and I would add, especially when they're threatened by an accomplished and articulate woman — that's when they make it personal," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.). "That's when they start their campaign of harassment and intimidation."

Frank said that while the substance of the opposition to Warren might be the same regardless of gender, it has played a role in the tone of that criticism.

"There is no question that the fact that she is a woman is a part of this," he said. "There are people who, consciously or unconsciously, don’t think a woman ought to be telling the leaders of the financial industry how to behave."

Frank did not offer any examples of such bias, and a spokesperson for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) who is leading Senate Republicans in blocking nominees to head the agency without changes, was dismissive of the charge.

"That's beyond baseless. It's outright silly," said spokesman Jonathan Graffeo.

This post updated at 4:08 pm.