A Senate Committee hearing Tuesday to address the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turned into a discussion much more focused on the structure of the CFPB’s governance than of the nomination itself.
The delay in nominating a director is harming Americans, noted committee member Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), making note of senior protections and reverse mortgages.
Without the director, he said, “Seniors don’t win, they’re still at the mercy of predatory reverse mortgage lenders…it will not only be bad for consumers, it will be bad for the country.”
The hearing, which had been postponed from August, brought to light past concerns of republican senators who have vowed to block any director confirmation without changes to the bureau’s leadership structure. Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee stressed that the hearing was premature pending those changes, which would include restructuring the leadership to become a five-member commission rather than a single director.
“No one person should have such unfettered power,” said ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). “Unless the bureau is reformed, it’s only a matter of time until the power of this bureau is misused.”
In calling those senators a “vocal minority,” Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) dismissed their position as “political gamemanship,” which threatens consumer protections.
“This vocal minority insists on rehashing the same debate Congress had last year when it created the CFPB as an accountable yet independent regulator,” Johnson said.
In defending the bureau’s oversight, Cordray, who currently serves as the CFPB’s enforcement chief, noted some of the CFPB’s powers and obligations.
“We should be attentive to legislative oversight. We pay close attention to audits…at the CFPB we will take our audit obligations very seriously,” he said.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker