Senate Republicans block Cordray nomination; Obama says recess appointment on the table

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
Font Size:

Senate Republicans blocked the nomination Thursday of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

By a vote of 53 to 45, the Senate failed to clear the necessary 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown was the only GOP senator to vote in favor of Cordray.

Senate Democrats and President Obama denounced the blockage of the nomination.

“This is the first time in Senate history a party has blocked a qualified candidate solely because they disagree with the existence of the agency that’s being created by law,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Obama took to the podium Thursday in a press conference to take Republicans to task, saying there is “no reason that Mr. Cordray should not be nominated, confirmed by the Senate and start doing his job.”

Obama said Americans deserve a consumer watchdog to “ensure that there’s fair play out there.” The CFPB began operating in July, but without a director it can only partially fulfill its functions.

Obama also said the administration is considering a recess appointment of Cordray. “We’re going to be looking at all our options,” the president said.

Republicans say they do not oppose Cordray — a former Ohio attorney general who is well-regarded in his home state by both parties — but rather what they call a lack of oversight within the CFPB itself. A May letter signed by 44 Senate Republicans demanded three structural changes to the CFPB before any director of the agency be nominated.

Specifically, Republicans demanded the single director be replaced with a board of directors that would oversee the bureau. Second, they demanded that the CFPB be subject to the congressional appropriations process. Finally, other financial regulators must be allowed to provide a check on CFPB rules, they said.

Republican leadership said the administration has ignored their complaints and steamed ahead with the nomination as part of a political ploy.  (SEE ALSO: What if there were an agency to implement Occupy Wall Street’s demands?)

“The President knew about these concerns months ago and he chose to dismiss them. And now he’s suddenly making a push to confirm his nominee — because it fits into some picture he wants to paint about who the good guys and the bad guys are in Washington,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Thursday. “So once again Democrats are using the Senate floor this week to stage a little political theater. They’re setting up a vote they know will fail so they can act shocked about it later.”

Follow CJ on Twitter