Changes Needed Before CFPB Director Is Confirmed, U.S. Chamber Says

Dec 13, 2011

Siding with the U.S. Chamber, the Senate last week sent a clear message that structural changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are needed before a director is confirmed to lead it.

Senate Democrats failed to muster enough votes to bring to the floor the nomination of Richard Cordray as head of the CFPB.

“We have been saying all along that Congress should focus on fixing this unaccountable agency, rather than on who should lead it,” said David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness. “Repeated calls for straightforward reforms to restore basic accountability to the bureau went unanswered, and the Senate had little choice but to use the confirmation process to force a debate over the bureau’s flawed structure.”

In an op-ed appearing in Politico ahead of the Senate vote, Hirschmann urged Congress to create a bipartisan board to run the agency, give itself authority to approve the agency’s budget, and give federal banking regulators more power to stop CFPB rules that could jeopardize banks’ financial soundness. “Each of these fixes is straightforward — hardly the ‘gutting’ of the CFPB that some have described,” Hirschmann wrote. “Senate Republicans propose reinstating important checks and balances without stripping the agency of a single power or amending its mission in any way.”

In response to the Senate action, President Obama strongly hinted that he may use a recess appointment to install Cordray as director. “So I just want to send a message to the Senate: We are not giving up on this,” Obama said during a December 8 press conference. “I will not take any options off the table when it comes to getting Richard Cordray in as director of the Consumer Finance Protection Board.”

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