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Portman Seeks Path to Break Impasse on Cordray Nomination

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Whatever Cordray tells Republicans in his rounds in the Senate about his performance, however, is unlikely to sway any GOP senators. Opposition to his confirmation isn’t really about Cordray himself or the job he has done in the year he has held the position under a recess appointment. In fact, Cordray has won praise from the banking industry for thoughtful, evenhanded rule-making, and some industry lobbyists worry that they could do worse with a replacement. The GOP is united in opposition to Cordray because the party opposes the structure of the independent agency, formed to represent consumer interests in financial regulation. Republicans want it rebuilt as a multimember commission that is funded through regular congressional appropriations.

Long Time Coming

Cordray’s presence atop CFPB has been controversial since he received a recess appointment along with three members of the NLRB last year. The naming of the four officials was Obama’s challenge to the use of pro forma sessions to block recess appointments when lawmakers are away from Washington.

A federal court has held that the NLRB appointments were not legal. Although Cordray does not face his own court test, some GOP lawmakers have challenged his standing to manage the CFPB while the NLRB case awaits a Supreme Court appeal.

Reid attacked the blocking tactics for targeting political goals, not qualifications.

“Richard Cordray is a perfect example. He was nominated by the president of the United States almost two years ago, 23 months ago. The Republicans aren’t concerned about his ability to do the job. They’re afraid, I guess, he can do his job too well,” Reid said.

“If he received an up-or-down vote here today, he would be approved in a millisecond.”

A senior Democrat said Reid and his team were weighing whether to try to limit filibusters. The lawmaker said procedural changes could be on the table after the Senate finishes work on immigration legislation, possibly by July.

“There could be fireworks in July,” the lawmaker said. Such pyrotechnics likely would precede the most contentious nominees, such as Cordray, Perez and McCarthy.

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