President Barack Obama will nominate former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the White House said in a statement Sunday.
Cordray is currently the chief of enforcement for the CFPB, which was created under last year’s financial regulatory reform law to serve as a watchdog for consumers of financial products. He was chosen over Treasury adviser Elizabeth Warren, who helped conceive the CFPB and has been setting it up. Senate Republicans opposed naming her its director.
“Richard Cordray has spent his career advocating for middle class families, from his tenure as Ohio’s Attorney General, to his most recent role as heading up the enforcement division at the CFPB and looking out for ordinary people in our financial system,” Obama said in the statement.
The 44 Senators wrote that the CFPB director has “unprecedented authority over financial institutions” under current law and could threaten to “affect every American household by limiting their choices when purchasing financial products.”
Senate Banking ranking member Richard Shelby, who released the letter in May, showed no willingness to budge from the GOP position Sunday.
“Although this deadline has been known for nearly one year, President Obama waited until the last possible moment to act,” the Alabama Republican said in a statement. “For months he has ignored Republican concerns about the lack of accountability at the [bureau] and its potential adverse effect on the economy. Until President Obama addresses our concerns by supporting a few reasonable structural changes, we will not confirm anyone to lead it. No accountability, no confirmation.”
The Ohio Democrat predicted Cordray would be confirmed unless Senators “get to be hyper-partisan. My only fear is Republicans don’t think we should have consumer protection rules.”
Brown’s home state colleague, Republican Sen. Rob Portman, expressed reservations about the CFPB’s structure, saying he believes it “needs reasonable checks to ensure it does not lead to job loss and harm to the consumers it was created to protect.”
“Rich Cordray is a dedicated public servant and I will look forward to hearing his views, including on how the CFPB can be made more accountable,” Portman said in a statement Sunday.
Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee accused Warren during a hearing last week of hiding information. They argued that the CFPB lacks oversight because it is not subject to the Congressional appropriations process, while panel Democrats accused the Republicans of protecting Wall Street.
Obama thanked Warren on Sunday for her efforts to make the agency a reality.