Saying that without a director the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is limited in its ability to protect people from “predatory and unscrupulous financial products,’’ Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee are asking Senate Republicans to allow a vote on Richard Cordray to run the agency.
The Democrats noted that the Dodd-Frank bill that created the agency doesn’t give it full enforcement powers against certain non-bank entities, such as payday lenders and mortgage companies, until a permanent director has been confirmed.
They also noted that the CFPB’s efforts to protect members of the military and their families and the elderly would be especially impacted.
“The idea that any federal legislator would stand in the way of ensuring comprehensive financial protections for military families, the elderly and all Americans seems unfathomable,’’ the Democrats wrote Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Senate Republicans have vowed to block the confirmation of any nominee unless President Obama and Senate Democrats agree to restructure the agency so it is governed by a five-member board rather than by a single director. The House has passed a bill that would do that.
Although Democrats control the Senate – and Cordray’s nomination has made it through the Senate Banking Committee – the rules of that chamber allow the minority party to put up procedural roadblocks to block action.
This week, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) broke ranks with his party and said Cordray, a former attorney general of Ohio, should be given a vote. Brown faces a difficult reelection race next year.
The Democratic nominee is likely to be Elizabeth Warren, who came up with the idea for the CFPB and headed its setup. The CFPB is an independent agency housed in Federal Reserve. Its rules are applicable to all financial institutions but it has direct supervisory authority only over institutions with assets of more than $10 billion.