The Senate today is scheduled to vote on the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. It’s unlikely, at this point, that Democrats have enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. Forty-five Republican senators have pledged to block any nominee until structural changes are made to the Bureau that would undermine its effectiveness.
Wall Street banks have been fighting the new agency tooth and nail, and as it turns out, the 45 Republicans who have vowed to block the agency’s director have been lavished with donations from the financial services industry, as the Public Campaign Action Fund noted:
– The 44 Senate Republicans who signed a letter in May pledging to filibuster any CFPB nominee (plus Sen. Dean Heller who later added his name once appointed to the Senate) have received over $6.5 million from the financial industry in 2011 and nearly $125.6 million over their careers.
— Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Senate Banking committee (and lead signer of the letter), has received at least $81,850 in 2011 and $6.2 million from the FIRE sector throughout his career.
Shelby, in fact, received a $5,000 donation from Goldman Sachs the day after he denounced the Bureau as “dangerous.”
So far, just one Republican has broken ranks and said that he will support Cordray: Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), who is facing a strong challenge from Prof. Elizabeth Warren. As ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser has noted, if the GOP continues to filibuster Cordray, President Obama can always break out the Roosevelt precedent, in order to allow Cordray to do his job and allow the Bureau to begin the work for which it was created.
Corday’s nomination “failed” by 53-45 vote because it did not receive the 60 votes needed to break the GOP filibuster. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) was the only Republican to vote in favor of confirming Cordray. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) voted present.