The Senate will vote on the president’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as soon as next week, according to a Senate Democratic aide.
The vote to confirm Richard Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, to head the new bureau will likely be an uphill climb, given strong GOP opposition to any nominee to head the controversial new agency.
Before Cordray was even tapped by the White House, 45 GOP senators vowed to block any nominee to head the agency unless several changes were made to its structure. Republicans, who opposed the creation of the agency during the drafting of the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law, argued that it hs too much power and lacks proper oversight.
“Current financial regulators already evade accountability by claiming independence or recusing themselves when they fail,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who has led the GOP blockade, said Friday. “The CFPB is unaccountable by design. We will continue to fight for accountabilty from regulators.”
Among the changes GOP senators want to see made before considering any nominee is replacing the director position with a multimember board, subjecting the agency’s budget to the appropriations process and making it easier for other regulators to veto actions taken by the bureau.
Democrats and CFPB backers have argued that the moves are simply intended to water down the agency, and have pushed hard to get Cordray confirmed, given that the bureau cannot fully implement its powers without a director in place. Amid the standoff, the White House has given no indication it plans to agree to any of the proposed changes.
Rather, the Obama administration has ramped up pressure to get Cordray confirmed. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner paid a visit to the CFPB on Thursday, urging Cordray’s approval.
Given that intransigence, the filibuster-proof bloc of Republicans makes it likely Cordray’s nomination will be voted down when it reaches the Senate floor. Sixty votes are needed to advance his nomination.
Cordray’s selection has lingered before the full Senate for nearly three months, after the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee approved the pick on a party-line vote.