Richard Cordray is to appear before a Senate Committee Tuesday to make the case for a second term as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). But the end result of the hearing and subsequent approval vote is likely to be the same: a large bloc of Republican Senators will continue to block a vote on Cordray’s – and any other nominee – confirmation.
Cordray is currently serving as Director under a recess appointment by President Obama. But the legality of that appointment is under attack.
Cordray was nominated in July 2011 to head the CFPB. But Senate Republicans blocked a vote on his confirmation for months as they tried to change the structure of the new agency to include a commission and more Congressional oversight. Obama used his recess appointment authority to install Cordray in early January 2012 while the Senate was in recess.
But the move has led to legal challenges, as Republicans insist they were not in recess. They had devised a plan to call pro forma sessions of Congress every third day specifically to block Cordray’s appointment. There is at least one ongoing lawsuit challenging Cordray’s appointment and authority to lead the CFPB.
One court case on a similar move by Obama has been decided, however. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week ruled that Obama’s other recess appointments at the same time, to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), were unconstitutional.
The court ruling has emboldened Republicans that want changes to the CFPB. Last month, a group of 43 Republican Senators delivered a letter to President Obama vowing that they would block any confirmation vote on a Director for the CFPB until structural changes were made to the agency, including the appointment of a commission to head the Bureau. The previous week, Obama re-nominated Cordray to lead the CFPB and asked the Senate to confirm him.
The hearing before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday is the first step in the confirmation process. The result, however, is not expected to change, as a full Senate vote on his confirmation will continue to be blocked.
Cordray is expected to tout the work the Bureau has been doing over the past year or so at the hearing.
Active supervision and examination of larger debt collection industry participants began in January. And the Bureau is expected to begin collecting consumer complaints about debt collectors in the second quarter of this year. The nomination fight should not impact either, however, as Cordray will serve as Director through the end of 2013 under his current term.
- CFPB’s Debt Collection Advice to the Consumer
- The Debt Collection Compliance Handbook
- FTC Debt Collection Complaints Compendium