House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) played a powerful political card this week when he said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray won’t be allowed to testify until confirmed by the Senate.
The committee was expected to call Cordray to a hearing in coming weeks, as it has before, to present the CFPB’s semi-annual report to Congress.
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Hensarling said Monday that until Cordray is confirmed, “the committee intends to continue to conduct rigorous oversight of the CFPB’s activities, and will expect the CFPB’s cooperation in those efforts, including making other employees available to testify at committee hearings and responding fully to committee requests for documents and information.”
In a letter to CFPB General Counsel Meredith Fuchs, Hensarling referenced a Jan. 25 District of Columbia federal appeals court ruling that invalidated appointments made by President Barack Obama while the Senate was in recess. Those appointments were made the same day Cordray was also appointed to head the CFPB.
“The court’s unanimous ruling makes it clear that there is no legally appointed director of the CFPB at this time,” the Texas Republican said. “By law, the committee can receive this testimony only from a director who is appointed in accordance with the Constitution and the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the bureau.”
Hensarling also sent a letter on Monday to Cordray, noting the federal appeals court ruling and requirements under Dodd-Frank that specify the CFPB director must be appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate.
“Absent contrary guidance from the United States Supreme Court, you do not meet the statutory requirements of a validly-serving director of the CFPB, and cannot be recognized as such,” Hensarling wrote.
Hensarling and other Republicans have called for a bipartisan commission to replace Cordray’s director position. They have also said the CFPB should be subject to the appropriations process, which are typical checks and balances for federal agencies.
Hensarling also said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who created the CFPB, originally called for the agency to be governed by a bipartisan board.