PointofLaw returns to its coverage of the Richard Cordray confirmation standoff. In a 53-45 vote, Senate Republicans effectively blocked the confirmation of Richard Cordray, former Ohio attorney general, nominated to serve as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While the CFPB can currently regulate the nation's banks, without a director, the new agency cannot assume its arguably most important role of regulating non-bank institutions that can offer loans to consumers.
In a subsequent press conference, President Obama pledged that this was not the end of the road and that, "we are not giving up on this... we are going to keep at it." Some Senate Democrats are urging the President to make a recess appointment of Cordray when the Senate adjourns as expected at the end of the month. The President has not ruled that option out. Republicans however, can avert such appointments by preventing the Senate from adjourning and holding short sessions during the vacation periods. Such a stalemate, we would hope, will force the Senate to engage in a real and honest debate focused on the structure and regulatory authority of the CFPB.
In the meantime, both parties will appeal to the public by accusing each other of unprecedented partisanship; the Senate Democrats pointing to the first time in Senate history that a candidate of an agency has been blocked because of opposition to the agency itself and Senate Republicans citing an unparalleled grant of absolute unchecked authority to a regulatory agency.