Obama Considering Warren Among Consumer Bureau Candidates

President Barack Obama has narrowed the list of candidates to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to a group of people with financial-services experience including Elizabeth Warren, an administration official said.

Warren, the Obama administration adviser setting up the agency, and the other candidates have all worked in financial services, though not necessarily in private industry, said the official who requested anonymity because the process isn’t public. The administration hopes to make a decision in the next few weeks, the official said.

Obama met recently with advisers to discuss the nomination, according to a person briefed on the talks. He may announce a nominee with the expectation that he will make a recess appointment if it becomes clear the Senate won’t confirm a director in time for the CFPB’s scheduled July 21 start date, according to a person with knowledge of the bureau’s efforts.

Under a recess appointment, the president would choose a director while the Senate is out of session. That person could serve through the next session of Congress through 2012.

For example, Obama nominated Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in April 2010. After the nomination stalled amid Republican opposition, Obama gave him a recess appointment in July and resubmitted his nomination to the Senate when the new Congress began in January.

Meetings With Senators

Warren has had meetings in recent weeks with Senate Democrats on the Banking Committee including Chairman Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mark Warner of Virginia, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, according to two people briefed on the discussions.

The meetings have the dual effect of updating the senators on Warren’s progress in setting up the agency created by the Dodd-Frank Act and tamping down opposition to a recess appointment, according to the person with knowledge of the bureau’s efforts.

The administration wants to ensure no Democrats echo likely Republican criticism in the event of a recess appointment, the person said.

Two people -- former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and former Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman -- turned back approaches about the consumer bureau job, according to two people briefed on the talks. Both urged the White House to nominate Warren, 61, one of the people said.

Warren, the White House and Treasury Department adviser assigned to set up the consumer bureau, is “absolutely” still on the list as a possible nominee for the director’s job, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said yesterday.

“She is doing a terrific job making the case for stronger consumer protection and attracting talented people to stand up that agency,” Geithner said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Peter Cook.

Jen Howard, a spokeswoman for Warren, declined to comment.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE