WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday blocked President Obama’s nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as filibustering Republicans who oppose the very powers of the new agency successfully challenged one of the administration’s main responses to the financial crisis.
The nomination of Richard Cordray was rejected after Democrats failed to achieve the 60 votes they needed to move his nomination forward. The vote was 53 yes, 45 no.
President Obama left open the option of a recess appointment, although Republicans have thwarted that tactic recently by staying in rump sessions.
“We are not giving up on this,” he said. “We are going to keep on going at it. We are not going to allow politics as usual on Capitol Hill to stand in the way of American consumers’ being protected.”
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said his party had made clear for months that it would not approve a leader for the watchdog consumer agency until the law that established it was amended.
Until three changes are made, he said, “We won’t support a nominee for this bureau — regardless of who the president is.”
One of those changes would put a board of directors in charge of overseeing the bureau instead of the director, abolishing the post. Others would subject the agency to the Congressional appropriations process — thereby giving lawmakers more sway over its policies — and give other financial regulatory agencies a check on its rules.
Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a Democrat, said that opponents’ “first loyalty is to Wall Street banks.”
While the agency can accomplish part of its mission, the protection of consumers from unscrupulous lending practices, without having a director in place, some of its new powers are vested by law in the director, so it could not expand into such realms as the regulation of pay-day lenders and other non-bank financial actors.
Yeah, a committee with obstructionist Republicans on it would work real well. Republicans claim that government doesn’t work, and they do everything in their powers to make that claim true.