Republicans used a House subcommittee meeting Tuesday afternoon to repeatedly attack Elizabeth Warren, who is advising President Obama on the formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP) and is among the candidates to become the bureau’s first director. Led by subcommittee chair Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Republicans questioned Warren’s veracity and accused her of hiding the truth from Congress in previous hearings.
The baseless attacks became so intense that Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) used his time to apologize to Warren for the “rude and disrespectful” behavior of his colleagues. The attacks came, Yarmuth said, because the GOP fears Warren’s ability to stick up for consumers:
YARMUTH: I apologize to the witness, Dr. Warren, for the rude and disrespectful behavior of the chair. The snarky comments about a Senate race, and the questioning of your veracity when there is documented evidence that you are being totally truthful indicates to me that this hearing is all about impugning you because people are afraid of you and your ability to communicate in very clear terms the threats to our consumers and the threats to our constituents and possibly very, very effective ways to combat them. So I think, in one respect, I congratulate you for instilling such fear in the committee, on the majority side, and in some aspects, or segments, of the business community because they understand how effective you are in getting the message out to the American people.
During the hearing, McHenry attacked the CFPB for being a “super class of administrative elites” and accused Warren of lying the last time she testified before Congress. Other GOP members, including Reps. Anne Marie Buerkle (NY) and Frank Guinta (NH), misstated facts about the length of appointments and the amount of pay received by CFPB members. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) demanded to know if the bureau had made any complaints public — only to find out that the bureau hasn’t received any complaints yet because it is still being formed. Yet another member quoted language from the Dodd-Frank bill, which established the CFPB, thinking Warren herself wrote it.
As the contentious hearing drew to a close, McHenry seemed prepared to keep Warren past the agreed upon time. Warren declined to stay, saying she had a prior commitment. McHenry again accused her of lying, saying, “You’re making this up.” Before Warren left, Yarmuth issued his apology.
Republicans have consistently opposed the formation of the CFPB, and Warren in particular has emerged as the GOP’s primary enemy on the issue. Republicans have used her as a “punching bag” since Obama named her as an adviser, and she is almost universally opposed by those in the financial industry because she has made a career out of alerting consumers to the ways in which financial companies were taking advantage of them. The CFPB, which states its mission in part as informing consumers and protecting them from unfair, deceptive, abusive, or discriminatory business practices, was Warren’s idea.
Several House Democrats, meanwhile, have called for Obama to appoint Warren during the upcoming summer recess, allowing her to bypass Senate confirmation. The Republican opposition to Warren, however, runs so deep that they are attempting to use rare procedural moves to block her recess appointment.