Partisan Divide Over Consumer Protection Agency

By Ken Berry

Taxes aren't the only contentious issue in our nation's capital. The ultimate fate of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) remains in doubt due to a political deadlock.
 
The CFPB was created by the "Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010" to provide protections to investors in the financial markets. Earlier this year, President Obama nominated Richard Cordray, formerly Ohio state attorney general, to serve as director of the CFPB. But a cadre of 44 Republican senators is steadfastly blocking the nomination. A hearing on Cordray's nomination on September 6 provided no real headway in the dispute.
 
In this case, the stalemate is less about the nomination of Cordray than it is about the underlying ideology. The Republican bloc would like to reduce the power that can be wielded by the CFBP director.
 
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking Republican on the Senate banking panel, called the hearing "premature" in origin. "The majority structured the bureau to grant its director unprecedented authority over the lives of the American people without any effective checks," Shelby said. "All of the bureau's power is concentrated in the hands of its director."
 
Furthermore, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) accused the Democrats of employing "half-truths, mistruths and untruths" in describing Republican opposition to the CFBP director. "I'm shocked ... to hear the spewing from almost everyone on the other side of the dais," he said.
 
Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) had opened the hearing by accusing the Republican minority on the panel of "playing games" with the nomination in an attempt to re-legislate the Dodd-Frank Act. "This political gamesmanship is preventing Americans from receiving the consumer protections they deserve," said Johnson.
 
The battle lawns in this partisan showdown have been drawn. If the opposition to Cordray holds firm, it can continue to block the nomination indefinitely. Thus far, neither side has blinked.
 
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