GOP Ties New Consumer Bureau In Knots As Warren Exits

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WASHINGTON – Would-be consumer czar Elizabeth Warren plans to leave Washington this week, her dream to head the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in shambles and the bureau itself tied up in knots.

Warren’s exit comes after Republican lawmakers forced the White House to name someone else as director of the new consumer agency, while making it clear they want the agency to avoid any business until legislation is passed to have a five-person board run the agency instead of a single director. Bowing to reality, President Obama instead nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be director of the new agency last week.

Warren’s defeat prompted Democratic Party activists in her home state of Massachusetts to press the case for the Harvard law professor to run for the Senate next year against Republican incumbent Scott Brown. Warren said she will make any decisions on a Senate run after she leaves Washington and returns to Cambridge, where she is currently scheduled to teach fall semester.

Instead, Warren, who developed the new consumer agency as an advisor to the Treasury Department, last week said she plans another kind of building in the short term. “I’ve been working 14 hours a day on this thing for more than a year to try to stand it up,” Warren told CBS News Radio. “[Now] I’m going to take my grandchildren to Legoland. That’s where I’m headed.”

“When I go home, I'll do more thinking then. But I need to do that thinking not from Washington,” she said.

Warren’s exit comes after the Republican-controlled House last week passed a bill that would water down the powers of the new consumer agency and its director by expanding its leadership to a five-person board; and by increasing the veto power of its financial regulator oversight panel. GOP lawmakers also want the new agency – which opened for business last Thursday – to stop operations altogether until the bill is passed.

The bill has little chance of passing because it has been rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House and promised to veto it if it does get passed. But it has the effect of slowing down business at the new agency without a permanent director and also signals continued Republican opposition to the agency, which passed Congress in 2010 with almost no Republican votes.

 

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