NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Senate *finally* confirms Richard Cordray as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief

After months of sense­less delay, the Unit­ed States Sen­ate has final­ly con­firmed for­mer Ohio Attor­ney Gen­er­al Richard Cor­dray to serve as the Direc­tor of the Con­sumer Finan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau (CFPB) orig­i­nal­ly con­ceived by Eliz­a­beth War­ren and cre­at­ed by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010.

By a vote of sev­en­ty-one to twen­ty-nine, the Sen­ate agreed to end debate on Cor­dray’s nom­i­na­tion and pro­ceed to a final vote.

Cor­dray was then con­firmed by a bipar­ti­san vote of six­ty-six to thir­ty-four.

The votes occurred after Sen­ate Repub­li­cans agreed to stop fil­i­bus­ter­ing Cor­dray, EPA Admin­is­tra­tor nom­i­nee Gina McCarthy, and Labor Sec­re­tary nom­i­nee Thomas Perez. In exchange, Democ­rats did not attempt to alter the Sen­ate’s rules to lim­it the use of the fil­i­buster, and the White House with­drew the nom­i­na­tions of Sharon Block and Richard F. Grif­fin, Jr. to the Nation­al Labor Rela­tions Board. (Kent Yoshi­ho Hiroza­wa and Nan­cy Jean Schif­fer have been nom­i­nat­ed in their stead).

Every mem­ber of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus vot­ed in favor of Cor­dray’s con­fir­ma­tion; so did a num­ber of Repub­li­cans. Mitch McConnell, set­ting a bad exam­ple for his cau­cus, vot­ed against end­ing debate and also against Cor­day’s con­fir­ma­tion.

The roll call from the Pacif­ic North­west was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Aye: Democ­rats Pat­ty Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkey (OR); Max Bau­cus and Jon Tester (MT); Mark Begich (AK); Repub­li­can Lisa Murkows­ki (AK)

Vot­ing Nay: Repub­li­cans Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID)

The roll call on the clo­ture motion for our region was iden­ti­cal to the vote on final con­fir­ma­tion. Jeers go to Sen­a­tors Mike Crapo and Jim Risch for refus­ing to even sup­port giv­ing Cor­dray an up-or-down vote. Were there a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent in office and a Repub­li­can major­i­ty in the U.S. Sen­ate, Crapo and Risch would no doubt be loud­ly clam­or­ing for major­i­ty rule to pre­vail.

Now that Cor­dray has been con­firmed, the CFPB final­ly has a per­ma­nent leader (at least per­ma­nent in the sense that Cor­dray now has full author­i­ty to run the Bureau and enforce the law under the pro­vi­sions of Dodd-Frank). And that means the agency does­n’t have to wor­ry about its enforce­ment actions being chal­lenged in court due to it hav­ing oper­at­ed with­out a con­firmed direc­tor.

Ed Mierzwin­s­ki, U.S. PIRG’s Con­sumer Pro­gram Direc­tor, hailed Cor­dray’s con­fir­ma­tion as a vic­to­ry for Amer­i­can fam­i­lies.

“The CFPB was cre­at­ed to rein in the reck­less Wall Street prac­tices that blew up our econ­o­my almost five years ago. Big banks that rely on con­sumer tricks and schemes to make mon­ey have want­ed to kill the CFPB ever since, and for good rea­son: The CFPB has been enforc­ing crit­i­cal con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws, and already forced Cap­i­tal One to return $140 mil­lion in unfair cred­it card fees to con­sumers,” he said.

Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren, fresh from her smack­down of the hosts of CNBC’s Squawk Box, had the hon­or of pre­sid­ing over the Sen­ate for the con­fir­ma­tion vote and announc­ing the result (which was cap­tured on CSPAN‑2). War­ren’s office also issued a state­ment reflect­ing on the long-over­due vote.

After more than 700 days of wait­ing, Rich Cor­dray will final­ly get the con­fir­ma­tion vote he deserves from the U.S. Sen­ate. Direc­tor Cor­dray has won praise from con­sumer and indus­try groups, and from Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats, for his fair and effec­tive approach. With Direc­tor Cor­dray’s con­fir­ma­tion, we will be able to say loud­ly, clear­ly, and with con­fi­dence: the con­sumer agency is the law of the land and is here to stay. We fought hard for the agency, and we proved that big change is still pos­si­ble in Wash­ing­ton. Now we have the watch­dog that the Amer­i­can peo­ple deserve — a watch­dog look­ing out for mid­dle class fam­i­lies, get­ting rid of tricks, traps, and fine print, and hold­ing finan­cial insti­tu­tions account­able when they break the law.

Well said. We would not have a CFPB were it not for Sen­a­tor War­ren, and we at NPI thank her for her lead­er­ship. Her tenac­i­ty and courage are inspir­ing. If more Demo­c­ra­t­ic law­mak­ers fol­lowed the good exam­ple that she has set, our coun­try would be much bet­ter off. We need more leg­is­la­tors like Eliz­a­beth War­ren.

Our con­grat­u­la­tions also to Richard Cor­dray on his con­fir­ma­tion.

What a sat­is­fy­ing day in the U.S. Sen­ate: Mitch McConnel­l’s obstruc­tion­ist Repub­li­can cau­cus final­ly caved after Har­ry Reid showed some back­bone, and Sen­a­tor War­ren presided over Richard Cor­dray’s nom­i­na­tion.

Let’s see, how many defeats for the big banks does this make?

  1. They did­n’t want the CFPB to exist in the first place — they lost, as it was made a part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act of 2010.
  2. They thought they scored a vic­to­ry by lob­by­ing against a War­ren nom­i­na­tion for CFPB direc­tor, but their med­dling had the effect of facil­i­tat­ing War­ren’s entry into the U.S. Sen­ate race in Mass­a­chu­setts against Scott Brown. (The PCCC also facil­i­tat­ed War­ren’s entry by draft­ing her).
  3. They show­ered Scott Brown with mon­ey — enor­mous amounts of mon­ey, in fact — and tried to deflate War­ren’s can­di­da­cy, but she won a con­vinc­ing vic­to­ry with a dynam­ic, peo­ple-pow­ered cam­paign.
  4. After the elec­tion, they des­per­ate­ly lob­bied to keep her off the Sen­ate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee, but she was assigned to the Com­mit­tee any­way.
  5. And now they have failed to keep the CFPB rud­der­less with­out a con­firmed direc­tor after Democ­rats maneu­vered to end Sen­ate Repub­li­cans’ unprece­dent­ed abuse of the fil­i­buster.

So that’s Sen­a­tor War­ren 5, the pow­er­ful Wall Street banks 0. Their armies of lob­by­ists are cer­tain­ly effec­tive in D.C., but against Eliz­a­beth War­ren, they’ve repeat­ed­ly struck out. Here’s to more vic­to­ries like this in the years to come.

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One Comment

  1. Cor­dray should have been con­firmed years ago. It’s embar­rass­ing that it took this long and that no Repub­li­cans were will­ing to vote for Cor­dray until their abil­i­ty to block nom­i­na­tions from receiv­ing time­ly con­sid­er­a­tion was itself threat­ened.

    # by Valerie W. :: July 29th, 2013 at 5:21 PM