Nearly every Senate Republican voted against the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which established the independent bureau. In 2011, 45 Republicans filibustered Cordray’s nomination, denying him an up-or-down vote, based on their objection to the agency itself. In a May 2011 letter, the Republican Senators made it clear that they would not allow a vote on any nominee unless the CFPB was first drastically restructured and weakened — though they did not attack the former Ohio Attorney General Cordray’s qualifications.
Though President Obama comfortably won re-election and Senate Democrats expanded their Senate majority to 55 seats in November, just 41 members of the Republican majority can again prevent Cordray from even getting a confirmation vote. It appears that might be a challenge, as:
- Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), who is likely to be the top Republican on the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said in a statement: “Today’s decision to re-nominate Richard Cordray to be Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after using an unconstitutional recess appointment is premature, given the outstanding concerns about the bureau and the legal challenge to the recess appointment. Until key structural changes are made to the bureau to ensure accountability and transparency, I will continue my opposition to any nominee for director, as outlined in a letter signed by 45 Republican Senators to the president.”
- Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the outgoing Ranking Member on the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, through a spokesman said he has “not changed his position” since 2011.
- Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), a member of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said in a statement: “While I respect Richard Cordray as a substantive person who has shown thoughtfulness in writing regulation up to now, I still have reservations about the CFPB’s structure, namely the lack of a board to help ensure sound policy and accountability, and I look forward to discussing with him how to address those concerns.”
- Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, said in a statement: “The Dodd-Frank Act places vast, unprecedented and unchecked power completely in the hands of a single person. The CFPB director has the power to decide whether American families can obtain a mortgage, get a car loan or even get a credit card. My hope is that the decision to renominate Mr. Cordray will open the debate about whether some common sense checks and balances will be placed on a massive bureaucracy that is now totally unaccountable to the American people.”
Despite the GOP’s reservations, the Cordray’s CFPB has been a great success, cleaning up the mortgage servicing industry, winning refunds for credit card customers, and preventing wrongful foreclosures. The fears of the industry proved baseless, as Cordray has earned praise for working with banks, credit unions, and consumer groups.
A questionably reasoned ruling by the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Friday held that President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were invalid because Congress was not formally recessed. The precedent, if it survives appeal, could potentially invalidate Cordray’s recess appointment and all of the CFPC’s actions under his tenure.