Richard Cordray, the appointed director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has gone 729 days without a vote. That isn’t because he’s a radical, or even controversial. It’s because the agency he’s appointed to lead was created by a law that conservatives don’t like.
Their chief complaint with the CFPB is that it’s a fully-funded, real regulator. Instead of consistently being forced to endure the same politically motivated cutbacks facing other agencies like the SEC, the CFPB is smartly funded by the Federal Reserve, giving the agency the latitude to hire a qualified, effective staff to compete with the very well-funded sectors it regulates. Despite their relentless protest to the contrary, this funding scheme is not "unprecendented." It's similar to other regulators like the OCC and the FDIC. Mike Konczal summarizes:
Rather than doing their job and providing advice and consent on appropriate candidates, Republicans in the Senate are nullifying a law they don’t like. There’s no basis for arguing that the CFPB is anything but a regulatory agency like any other. The fact that the GOP senators wants this or that part of Dodd-Frank replaced doesn’t give them the right to prevent Dodd-Frank from going forward.
Their real problem is that the CFPB has been a success even without a Senatorial appointment. It saved consumers nearly $425 million by cracking down on deceptive credit card practices alone.
And the public wants the agency online as designed. As my colleague Amy Traub noted:
Polls show strong and broad public support for the CFPB and its mission. The vast majority of small business owners support the CFPB and many leaders of financial firms overseen by the agency appreciate the CFPB’s transparent procedures and the chance to operate in a marketplace with clear and predictable rules. But it’s making little impact in the face of Senate obstructionism.
Senator Reid has had enough. As Republicans refuse to allow a vote on Cordray and six other executive nominees, he’s threatened to “go nuclear,” ending the need for a sixty-vote cloture. Today, Reid said that there’s no way he’ll back down, continuing to pledge to hold a vote to end the filibuster of executive nominees on Tuesday. As of this afternoon, it looks like he isn’t bluffing.
Good. The CFPB deserves a director because consumers still need protection. Just last month the CFPB reached a $6.5 million settlement with US Bank after the bank misled US service members who participated in an auto loan program. Whether it’s because of predatory credit agencies, unfair mortgage practices, or skyrocketing student debt, there needs to be someone in Washington that can take decisive action. Cordray's appointment is long overdue.
Update: This morning, the Senate voted to end a two-year filibuster of Cordray's nomination by a 71-29 vote.