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