The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau remains officially leaderless.
Although a majority of senators voted late Thursday morning to support the nomination of Richard Cordray to be the CFPB’s director, it didn’t get the needed 60 votes to overcome a GOP filibuster.
The count was 53-45, with one voting present and one senator absent. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts was the sole GOP vote in favor of Cordray. He's facing a stiff re-election challenge from Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who helped create the agency.
Republicans have vowed to block the confirmation of anyone to run the agency until President Obama and Senate Democrats agree to structural changes, including having the CFPB run by a five-member board rather than a single director. The House has passed a measure that would do that.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) took the floor before the vote and criticized Republicans for what he described as an “unprecedented and irresponsible display of political gamesmanship.’’
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the panel’s top Republican, said the changes are needed to make the agency more accountable. In addition, he dismissed the argument made by Democrats that without a permanent director the CFPB can’t regulate non-bank entities such as payday lenders and bill collectors.
He noted that many of those businesses are under the purview of the Federal Trade Commission and state regulators.
Corday’s nomination was approved in October by the Senate Banking Committee along party lines.
Although its regulations are applicable to all financial institutions, it only has direct supervisory authority over institutions with assets of more than $10 billion. Among credit unions, that includes only Navy Federal, PenFed and State Employees’ CU of North Carolina.
The agency was created by the Dodd-Frank Act. Raj Date, whose title is Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the CFPB, has been serving as its de facto director.