Senate Republicans To Block Consumer Financial Protection Chief

Following their colleagues in the House, who earlier this week offered legislation that would weaken the powers of the planned Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, nearly all Republican Senators have sent a letter to President Obama vowing to block the confirmation of any nominee to head the new agency, unless there are “structural changes that will make the Bureau accountable to the American people.”

The letter to the president was signed by 44 Senators; if they make good on their plan, the White House would be four votes shy of the 60 needed to avoid a confirmation-blocking filibuster.

The GOP Senators are demanding that the agency be run by a board, rather than a single director, that its budget be subject to congressional approval, and that bank regulators be allowed to block CFPB regulations from “needlessly causing a bank failure.” The changes are similar to those proposed by House Republicans.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) countered: “The truth is this bureau is already subject to greater checks and balances than any other financial regulator and this is just another attempt by Republicans to delay and derail these critical new protections.”

The Bureau, which was established last year as part of financial reform legislation, is expected to officially open its doors in July (its web site was launched in February). Although the White House has not officially announced a nominee to head the consumer watchdog agency, Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren (pictured above) is expected to get the nod, and has been serving as a “special advisor” on the creation of the CFPB.

“Congress should reject efforts to turn this new consumer watchdog into a lapdog,” said Pamela Banks, Senior Policy Counsel for our cousins at Consumers Union. “Current law already provides the needed balance on the CFPB’s authority without undermining its ability to protect consumers.”

44 U.S. Sens. to Obama: No Accountability, No Confirmation [Sen. Richard Shelby]
Consumers Union Urges House to Oppose Efforts to Undermine the CFPB [Consumers Union]