Presidential Kiss-Off Doesn’t Satisfy GOP Lawmakers

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WASHINGTON – President Obama kissed would-be consumer czar Elizabeth Warren on the cheek and thanked her during a Rose Garden ceremony yesterday where he announced the nomination of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray as director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the post long coveted by Warren.

President Obama’s retreat on the appointment of Warren to head the fledgling consumer agency came after overwhelming opposition by Republican lawmakers, who questioned her heatedly during more than a dozen hearings this spring over creation of the new agency. But GOP leaders made it clear yesterday they so oppose the new agency they won’t agree to confirm anybody nominated by the President until he agrees to create a multi-person board – not a single director – to head the new agency.

“We’ll insist on serious reforms to bring accountability and transparency to the agency before we consider any nominee to run it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said in a speech on the Senate floor. Earlier, Sen. Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said the committee will not vote for any nominee until the demanded changes are made. “Until President Obama addresses our concerns by supporting a few reasonable structural changes, we will not confirm anyone to lead it,” Shelby said in a statement. “No accountability, no confirmation.”

McConnell, Shelby and 42 other Republican senators signed a letter to the president that said they will block any attempt to get a director of the new agency confirmed by the Senate until the president agrees to support changes to the consumer agency.

The heightened controversy over the appointment comes as the new agency is scheduled to open for business on Thursday. Adding to yesterday’s drama were rumors that Warren may run for the Senate seat in her home state of Massachusetts in next year’s election, providing the possibility she could return to Washington next year to torment her tormenters.

Cordray, 52, already is working to help organize the new agency, having been recruited after he failed to win re-election as Ohio’s attorney general last year. He had become known as a banking critic when as attorney general he sued the GMAC Mortgage unit of Ally Financial Inc, which he accused of fraudulent foreclosure practices. Cordray, who also served as Ohio state treasurer, was a five-time winner on “Jeopardy” in the 1980s.

 

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