Senate Banking Committee Committee Chairman Tim Johnson on Tuesday accused a “vocal minority” of panel members of obstructing the nomination of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while the panel’s top Republican said they were exercising their time-honored rights to have their say.
“This vocal minority insists on rehashing the same debate Congress had last year when it created the CFPB as an accountable yet independent regulator. The fact is that every regulatory agency is structured with different features that make it accountable,” the South Dakota Democrat said.
“Each agency has a unique combination that fits its mission and independence. Last year, Congress decided on a structure for the CFPB which borrows some accountability features from other regulators, but also includes several new features unique to the consumer agency,’’ Johnson said in his opening statement at the hearing.
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the panel’s top Republican, defended his party’s refusal to consider any nominee until the CFPB’s structure is changed to have it run by a five-person board rather than just a single director.
He said the current structure gives “an unelected and unaccountable bureaucrat a blank check to make rules that could further add to the regulatory burden of businesses and prevent the creation of needed jobs.’’
And he added that the Republicans’ efforts to use the Senate rules to block Cordray’s confirmation are in keeping with the chamber’s tradition and not a “radical undertaking.”
Cordray, a former attorney general of Ohio, was nominated to run the CFPB by President Obama in July. He was scheduled to speak later at the hearing.