President Donald Trump and outgoing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray have both named interim heads of the agency, calling into question who has the power to name a new director and who is actually leading the agency in Cordray’s absence.
Trump named White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as the temporary head of the CFPB Friday evening, while Cordray promoted his chief of staff, Leandra English, to fill the vacancy he is leaving behind.
The White House is adamant that it has the authority to replace Cordray, but the legal reading of the 2010 Dodd Frank regulatory legislation leaves the succession rather open to interpretation.
Dodd Frank says that the deputy director shall “serve as acting director in the absence or unavailability of the director.”
Some legal scholars argue that the word “unavailability” could mean a wide range of things. It could be interpreted as a leave of absence for the director’s health, rather than an instance where the director retires, as is the case with Cordray. Others believe that the law gives the power to Trump to decide a new director, The Washington Post reports.
The vacancy left behind by Cordray gives Republicans an opportunity to significantly change, or even dismantle, an agency that has been in the crosshairs of the GOP since its creation in 2010.
Mulvaney could be a first step in the Republican effort to upend the CFPB, a man who once characterized the agency as a “sick” joke.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former President Barack Obama are ardent supporters of the agency. Both prominent members of the Democratic Party believe the CFPB is vital to stopping the banking and financial malpractices that led to the Great Recession.
Former Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell and a former high-level Ohio elected official told The Daily Caller News Foundation in October to look for Cordray to run for Ohio governor once he announced his retirement.
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