Will Getting a CFPB Director Call for Unorthodox Measures?

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advocates are imploring the White House to do everything in its power to get a director approved for the agency, which has operated without its intended authority for the past five months, and counting. They say the “extreme” Republican response to the director’s appointment warrants unprecedented moves that would enable President Obama to appoint the director without Congressional approval.

The White House has not indicated it will use a recess appointment to get Richard Cordray, President Obama’s pick for the director seat, through the process. It hasn’t ruled out that option, though, according to a report by political blog The Hill.

“With Cordray’s pick stalled, rumblings of a recess appointment are picking up steam as a way to circumvent the Senate and get a director in place,” The Hill reported this week.


But a recess appointment may prove to be more complicated than expected, with a couple of options left under the Constitution in light of a Congress that has not adjourned in months. When a chamber takes a break, several members have continued to gather to prevent an actual recess and thus, a recess appointment.

“If the White House does pursue a recess appointment, it might need to dig deep into the Constitution to find a way to pull it off,” the Hill writes.

The Hill outlines the possibilities: The president does have the power to force Congress to adjourn if the two sides cannot agree on when to recess, but that power remains untested. The 20th Amendment states that Congress shall begin a new session each January 3 at noon, which implies it must technically adjourn before the new session begins. Either would present the opportunity for a recess appointment.

“If the president does pull out such an unorthodox maneuver, the blowback from Republicans would likely be substantial,” the Hill writes. “But for backers of the CFPB, they see little choice.”

Read The Hill’s article.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • If the present Congress adjourns at 11:59:59 AM on January 3rd and reconvenes the next second, how could the President appoint anyone?  Can a recess appointment be completed in less than one second and if so, how?  If the President tries to play that hand, can Congress stop all funding of the CFPB?
    Where are Jimmy Stewart (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) and LBJ when you really need them?

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