Confirm Cordray


This week, a Senate committee approved the nomination of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray to head the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Now the full Senate — and especially its obstructionist Republican minority — needs to stop playing partisan games and confirm Mr. Cordray for the permanent post.

Mr. Cordray has headed the bureau on an interim basis, as a recess appointee of President Obama, since 2011. The Senate banking committee voted 12-10 this week, along party lines, to give him the permanent job.

The partisan fight on the Senate floor will not be over Mr. Cordray, his qualifications, or the job he has been doing. No one disputes he is well qualified; Republicans concede he has been fair and effective in carrying out his duties.

The battle is over the bureau itself. Republicans think its powers are too sweeping. They don’t want it to be an independent agency.

Basically, they dislike its scope of activities — protecting people from credit card fraud, unscrupulous home mortgages, and usurious student loans. Most Americans think that’s worth doing.

Some 40 Senate Republicans warn they will block Mr. Cordray’s nomination, by filibuster or its threat, because they object to the nature of the bureau. They could try to amend the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to remake the agency.

But they don’t have the votes for that, so they are taking it out on Mr. Cordray. Obstruction is easier than legislating.

Democrats hold 55 of the 100 Senate seats. They need to push for a vote on an able, decent public servant. They need to insist that Senate nominations will be about qualifications, a fair process, and majority rule — not ideological or personal agendas.

They need to insist on a vote, up or down. Republicans can vote no if they wish. But give Mr. Cordray a vote. Democrats hung tough for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, when Republicans threatened to hold his nomination hostage. They need to do it for Mr. Cordray.

Obstructing Mr. Cordray has no merit. It is irresponsible and irrational.

President Obama could use another recess appointment to keep Mr. Cordray in office, if the GOP insists on blocking him. Maybe the President should let it be known that he is ready to do just that.