Elizabeth Warren has not yet been nominated to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but opposition has lined up strongly in anticipation.
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), the only woman serving on the Banking Committee, denounced that claim, and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who sits on the Financial Services panel, called it "bunk." Nevertheless, Capito noted that Warren's name draws strong reactions from both sides of the aisle.
"Any time you're standing up to something this large with this kind of reach, we should be questioning it," she said in an interview. "Has it gone over the top? I think potentially it could. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail."
Warren will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform panel next month; the hearing was scheduled after Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) blasted her for not responding to Members' questions at a May 24 hearing before the panel. Warren and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) engaged in a heated exchange during that hearing, which sparked a fiery response from progressive followers. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee sent an email to supporters the day after the hearing calling for Warren to be a recess appointment.
Some Democrats acknowledge Warren would have a hard and perhaps impossible time winning confirmation to the CFPB post, if she were nominated, and they instead suggest she launch a Senate bid against Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R). One Democratic source said she remains the favorite among top political and White House advisers who maintain a statewide bid by Warren would help galvanize the Democratic base nationwide during the same election cycle in which Obama will vie for a second term.
So far, Warren has been mum on whether she would run for the Senate. A spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee declined to comment on the subject, and at a press conference two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid kept his comments brief.
"I've known Elizabeth Warren," the Nevada Democrat said. "She's been to see me on a number of occasions. I've been to see her. We've talked about issues dealing with the bill that was passed, the Dodd- Frank bill. And all those conversations and any other conversations I have with her and most anyone else I think should be private, and that's the way I'm going to keep it."
Financial Services ranking member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said he would prefer to see Warren lead the CFPB rather than run for the Senate. He said White House officials have indicated Warren will eventually be a recess appointment, although the outspoken lawmaker said Obama should have done so earlier this year.
Frank also said having Warren stand for an official floor vote in the Senate would be helpful to the party, even if she was rejected.
"If she were in fact rejected by the Senate, which I would hope she wouldn't be, that would make her a hero," he said, adding that he hopes such a threat would be enough to deter Republicans from filibustering her.