Senate Republicans, in their zeal to prevent the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency from ever getting off the ground, have said that they won’t confirm anybody to be the agency’s director unless Democrats and the Obama administration agree to changes that would deal a body blow to the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers. The Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee — led by ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL) — all voted against former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordry’s nomination to head the agency.
The Constitution, of course, provides the president with a way to handle this sort of obstruction: the recess appointment power. But Shelby, in an interview with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said that Obama using this constitutionally sanctioned power to give the CFPB a director would be “devastating“:
Q: Will Senate Republicans block his ability, President Obama’s ability, to make a recess appointment in this case?
SHELBY: That would be up to the leadership, Sen. McConnell will make that call with the caucus. I would hope they would. We have thus far, and I hope we will in the future. I think it would be devastating if we let [Obama] make a recess appointment, but that’s the call of the leadership.
Shelby doesn’t explain how allowing an agency that was approved by law to get up and running would be devastating. But obstructing the confirmation of the CFPB nominee is just one of several ways in which the GOP is looking to prevent the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, even as banks go back to making record profits and paying huge bonuses.
When the GOP was obstructing President Obama’s nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, even corporatist Chief Justice John Roberts asked why on Earth Obama wasn’t using his recess appointment power to circumvent Republican intransigence. It would be an even more valid question when it comes to the CFPB, since the GOP has decided that they can prevent any director from taking office, regardless of qualifications, because they disagree with the agency’s very existence.