On a party line vote, the Senate Banking Committee today voted to confirm former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
All 12 committee Democrats supported Cordray while all 10 of the panel’s Republicans voted against him.
There was no discussion of the nomination at today’s session. However, before the vote, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) criticized Republicans for their unanimous opposition to Cordray because they disagree with the idea of the bureau. He also cited the words of support that Wright-Patt CU President/CEO Doug Fecher gave to Cordray when Fecher testified before Brown’s subcommittee on Tuesday. Fecher told the panel that Cordray has “outstanding qualifications and understands the unique role of credit unions and their role in the lives of consumers.”
It’s not clear whether Cordray will receive a vote by the full Senate. All Senate Republicans have vowed to oppose any nominee to run the CFPB until the Obama administration and Senate Democrats agree to change the structure of the bureau, including having it run by a five-person board rather than a single director. The House passed legislation that would accomplish that but Senate Democrats and the Obama administration oppose the measure and the Senate has taken no action on the bill.
Although the Democrats control the Senate, the rules of that chamber allow the minority party to force any nominee to receive 60 votes, which would require some Republicans to support Cordray. The Senate has 51 Democrats, two independents who caucus with the Democrats and 47 Republicans. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was testifying before the committee on another matter, added to his prepared remarks and urged Republicans to support Cordray. He called the nominee “talented and thoughtful,’’ and noted that without a director, the CFPB wouldn’t be empowered to regulate non-bank entities such as payday lenders.