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Published: 5/15/2013

U.S. Senate to hold vote on consumer watchdog director next week

REUTERS

U.S. Senate Democratic leaders plan to hold a vote next week on President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a Senate Democratic aide said today, but they are not expected to muster enough votes to confirm him.

Republicans have bitterly opposed the nomination of Richard Cordray, who has been leading the consumer agency since January 2012 in a temporary position, and Democrats are not expected to gather the 60 votes that would be needed to overcome Republican objections.

Republicans have argued that before confirming Cordray, Democrats must first agree to change the consumer bureau, which they want to be run by a bipartisan commission rather than a single director.

They have also want more congressional oversight of the bureau’s budget.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to try and clear the way for an official vote sometime next week, though exact timing is uncertain, said Reid’s spokesman Adam Jentleson.

He added that no deal had been made with Republicans to change the consumer bureau.

Republicans also are blocking several of Obama’s other nominees for top positions, angering the White House and congressional Democrats.

When asked if Reid may consider making changes to Senate rules that require 60 votes to approve a nominee instead of a simple majority of the 100 senators, Jentleson said a rule change is possible, but the options are still being discussed.

Congress created the consumer bureau as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. It is charged with overseeing mortgages, credit cards and other products to keep Americans from falling prey to financial scams.

But the financial industry argued that the new bureau’s authority was too broad and Republicans refused to confirm Obama’s initial choice as director, Elizabeth Warren, who is now a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

Obama eventually gave Cordray the job on a temporary basis through a move known as a “recess appointment,” a procedural maneuver used to evade Senate confirmation.

In January of this year, he nominated Cordray for a full term.

Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, made around at the same time that Cordray was appointed to lead the consumer bureau, were ruled invalid by a court this year.

Cordray was not directly involved in that court case, but the same argument could be applied to challenge his position, legal experts have said. REUTERSŒ



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