A group of 43 Republican senators said in a letter to President Barack Obama that they will continue to oppose confirmation of any nominee to lead the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until “key changes are made to ensure accountability and transparency at the bureau.”
Obama last week re-nominated Richard Cordray to a full five-year term at the agency, created to protect consumers from scams and abuses in the financial services market.
Obama installed the former Ohio attorney general to the job in January 2012. He bypassed Republican opposition by making a so-called recess appointment, contending the Senate was out of session. That move put Cordray in the job through the end of 2013.
“We have serious concerns about the lack of congressional oversight of the agency and the lack of normal, democratic checks on its sole director,” the senators said in a letter authored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho, ranking Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Bob Corker of Tennessee and Rob Portman of Ohio were the only Republican senators who didn’t sign the letter. Corker is a member of the Banking Committee, which would consider the nomination. Opposition from 43 senators would be enough to block Senate confirmation.
Responding to the letter, White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said Obama “has always said that he will not accept efforts to weaken the structure of the CFPB.” Jen Howard, a spokeswoman for the bureau, declined to comment.
Senator Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican and banking committee member, introduced legislation that would replace the bureau director with a five-member commission confirmed by the Senate. The measure was also introduced in 2011.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled Jan. 26 that Obama violated the Constitution by making recess appointments last year to the National Labor Relations Board. The court said the appointments, made after Republicans refused to consider his nominees, were “constitutionally invalid” because the Senate wasn’t in recess at the time.
Although the ruling didn’t address Cordray’s appointment, McConnell said at the time that it cast “serious doubt” on whether it was lawful. He and 41 other Republican senators had filed court papers challenging the NLRB appointments.
When Obama first nominated Cordray for the CFPB post, he bypassed former Treasury Department and White House adviser Elizabeth Warren. She had helped organize the bureau and was opposed by Senate Republicans.
Warren is now a freshman Democratic senator from Massachusetts after defeating Republican Scott Brown in the November election. She is a member of the Banking Committee.