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White House to Push Cordray Appointment to Consumer Bureau

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo

The White House will begin a campaign Monday to push for the confirmation of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Senate is expected to vote on Cordray’s nomination Thursday, White House officials said in a conference call with reporters today.

“With the vote slated for this week — likely Thursday, I understand — we intend to aggressively take the case for Mr. Cordray’s nomination directly to the American people,” Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

He added that the White House will target seven states in particular: Alaska, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Nevada, Tennessee and Utah.

In these states, the White House intends to articulate “the consumer protections that would be put in place if Mr. Cordray is confirmed and the tangible consequences for families in those states if the Senator who is elected to represent them in Washington, D.C., sides with the financial industry and votes to block his nomination,” Earnest said.

White House officials have scheduled a special briefing Monday for Washington-based print journalists from these states, and on Thursday television news stations from these states are expected to interview the president.

The White House National Economic Council released a report today underscoring the need to confirm a CFPB director in order to provide the oversight and reforms promised under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial industry reform law, which created the agency.

“Without a director, the CFPB does not have the capacity to provide full oversight and full supervision,” National Economic Council Deputy Director Brian Deese said.

Members of the National Association of Attorneys General will also hold conference calls and participate in public events this week in favor of Cordray, a Democrat and former Ohio attorney general.

Last month more than three dozen state attorneys general, including eight Republicans, signed a letter calling for Cordray’s confirmation.

Mayors and other elected officials from these states are also expected to speak out this week on behalf of Cordray.

Initially there was speculation that Cordray would receive a friendlier reception from the GOP than Elizabeth Warren did. A White House adviser who helped design the CFPB, Warren is popular among liberal advocacy groups and was thought to be President Barack Obama’s first choice to run the CFPB. But moving on to Cordray has not swayed Republicans, for whom Warren was a lightning rod.

Republican opposition, led by Senate Banking ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), has instead focused on efforts to change the CFPB before it removes its blockade on any nominee to run the agency.

One issue has been the GOP’s unease with the authority given to the director under the reform law. Forty-four of the 47 Senate Republicans sent a letter to Obama earlier this year expressing their accountability concerns.

“One of our nation’s founding principles is that the government should be accountable to the people,” Shelby said at a Banking Committee hearing in September. “Yet, the majority structured the bureau to grant its director unprecedented authority over the lives of the American people without any effective checks.”

Despite Republicans’ concerns, the Banking Committee approved Cordray’s nomination in October with all Republicans on the panel voting against him, including Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, one of the states included in the White House media blitz.

Obama is scheduled to speak Tuesday in Osawatomie, Kan., where he will discuss themes connected with the push to confirm Cordray, according to Earnest.

“The argument in favor of confirming Mr. Cordray ... dovetails nicely with the speech President Obama will deliver on Tuesday ... [on] his vision for America where everyone engages in fair play, everyone does their fair share and everyone gets a fair shot,” he said.

Obama and other White House officials this week will also continue to urge Congress to extend and expand the payroll tax cut that expires at the end of the year. Two versions, one to extend and another to expand the tax break, failed in the Senate last week.

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