WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is expected to announce Wednesday that he will recess appoint Richard Cordray to serve as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, bypassing Senate Republicans who had blocked the nomination.
The move is likely to invite retaliation from the GOP, who have been holding up other financial services nominees in an effort to dissuade Obama from making a recess appointment. It will also likely lead to a legal challenge for the agency, including whether Obama has the right to make a recess appointment when the Senate is officially still in pro forma session.
Obama will announce his move at a speech in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Cordray's home state. But Democrats were already praising the decision, saying it was needed to get the agency up and running.
"With Richard Cordray leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Americans will finally get the consumer protections they deserve," said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, in a press release. "Mr. Cordray is eminently qualified for the job, as even my Senate Republican colleagues have acknowledged. As Banking Committee Chairman I look forward to working with Mr. Cordray and the CFPB as he moves forward on implementing long-overdue consumer financial protections for all Americans."
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, a Senate Banking Committee member, said, "We asked for a fair up or down vote on Richard Cordray's nomination. But too many senators are willing to stand instead with Wall Street, blocking a qualified nominee for the first time in the history of the Senate based on opposition to an agency's very existence. Rich Cordray is fair-minded and highly qualified, which is why he enjoys widespread and bipartisan support from both the people of Ohio and those he would regulate."
Senate Republicans have vowed to block any nominee until the Obama administration agrees to make structural changes to the CFPB's structure. But Obama never opened negotiations with Republicans on the issue.