44 Senate Republicans have pledged to block any nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. President Obama has nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be the agency’s first director, but he has yet to receive a vote due to the GOP’s intransigence.
Senate Republicans are blocking Cordray’s nomination because they oppose the very idea of a regulator focused solely on protecting consumers from Wall Street excess. But one Republican is breaking ranks with his party and supporting Cordray’s nomination — Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA):
Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts yesterday became the first Republican to back the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — whose chief architect, Elizabeth Warren, is challenging Brown in his reelection bid next fall.
The decision is a break from Republican leaders, GOP candidates for president, and rank-and-file members, who have denounced both the structure of the bureau and the overarching Dodd-Frank regime of government regulations on Wall Street…“The senator supports the Cordray nomination and believes it deserves an up or down vote on the Senate floor,’’ spokesman John Donnelly said yesterday.
Of course, Brown’s sudden support for Cordray likely has to do with the fact that he’s facing a strong challenge from Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, who not only came up with the idea for the Consumer Protection Bureau, but led it from its creation to its official opening.
Brown has tried to walk the fine line between favoring necessary Wall Street reforms and not earning the wrath of the financial sector. He voted for the Dodd-Frank law, but not before forcing its authors to significantly weaken a key regulation aimed at cutting back on the biggest banks’ risky trading.
As he was weakening Dodd-Frank, Brown was showered with financial sector cash. He then tried to claim the mantle of a Wall Street reformer, saying, “I worked very hard to make sure that banks didn’t act like casinos with our money.” Now, facing a challenge from a true Wall Street reformer, Brown is trying to distance himself even further from the GOP’s cozy embrace of the banks.