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Groups ask Senate to withhold Cordray's confirmation as CFPB director

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jan 30, 2013

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The Competitive Enterprise Institute, along with a seniors advocacy group, has sent a letter to Congress asking the Senate to withhold Richard Cordray's confirmation as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Last week, President Barack Obama said he plans to re-nominate Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, to the post.

Obama made the announcement Thursday, a day ahead of a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruling that the President's "intrasession appointment" of three new members to the National Labor Relations Board was an unconstitutional abuse of power.

Obama ended up using a recess appointment to make Cordray the head of the CFPB last January, bypassing GOP senators who opposed his nomination.

The bureau was created by the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul and is tasked with overseeing the federal financial laws that specifically protect consumers -- people who keep their money in banks and credit unions, pay for goods and services with their credit cards, and rely on loans to buy homes or pay for college, among other services.

Democrats, including Obama, had argued Republicans were "stonewalling" Cordray's nomination the first time around.

So, the President went ahead and appointed Cordray. In turn, some Republican senators threatened to hold up Obama's nominations, judicial ones in particular.

On Wednesday, CEI -- which describes itself as a "non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of limited government, free enterprise and individual liberty" -- and the 60 Plus Association -- a "non-partisan seniors advocacy group with a free enterprise, less government, less taxes approach to seniors issues" -- wants the Senate to wait on confirming Cordray until the legal implications of the federal appeals court ruling "become clear."

Currently, CEI and 60 Plus are plaintiffs along with The State National Bank of Big Spring, Texas, the states of Oklahoma, South Carolina and Michigan in a lawsuit filed against the CFPB.

In their four-page letter, CEI and 60 Plus take issue with the structure of the CFPB. They go as far as calling it "unconstitutional."

"This agency's structure and power, coupled with Director Cordray's pronouncements on using that power, have caused many people to take an extremely negative view of this agency. They regard it as a striking example of government power that is both massive and unaccountable," they wrote.

The groups also contend the bureau's "head-in-the-sand attitude" towards the appeals court's decision is the "height of administrative arrogance."

"For these reasons, we ask that at this time you delay action on Mr. Cordray's re-nomination," they wrote.

"This may well entail a temporary inconvenience in the Bureau's work, but as the court noted in its decision, 'convenience and efficiency are not the primary objectives -- or the hallmarks -- of democratic government.'"

As the groups note in their letter, Cordray's re-nomination was a "center of controversy" long before Obama's announcement last week.

Indeed, his re-nomination will most likely face a fight -- just as it did in 2011 -- and not necessarily because of Cordray himself.

Republicans also have issues with how the bureau is set up, and believe that no one person -- in this case, Cordray -- should have such power over the American people.

The agency, they argue, should be run by a board rather than a director.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee and a member of the Senate Banking Committee, told the National Journal last week that he respected Cordray but disagreed with the CFPB's structure.

To be confirmed, Cordray's nomination must first clear the Banking Committee.

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho and the ranking GOP member on the committee, told the news magazine he would oppose "any nominee" to head the bureau unless key changes were made.

"If the president is looking for a different outcome, the administration should use this as an opportunity to work with us on the critical reforms we have identified to him," he said.

Cordray, who was rumored to make a run for governor in his home state of Ohio, can serve as CFPB director until the end of 2013 without being confirmed.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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