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Does President Barack Obama plan to appoint Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor and former chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP, this week as the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and circumvent a Senate confirmation process? That question has been swirling around in various press reports, but on Thursday Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said no.
A story on Thursday in The Huffington Post quotes Dodd as telling reporters that “… Elizabeth will be some sort of adviser” at the CFPB. The administration needs “to send us a director, though, a nominee. The issue’s no different today than it was yesterday. We need a nominee that can be confirmed by the Senate to run the place.” Dodd has been vocal in insisting that if Warren were appointed chief, she could not win the 60 votes needed to defeat a GOP filibuster. An administration official told The Huffington Post that Warren will be named “assistant to the president and special adviser to the Treasury,” in charge of setting up the CFPB.
News that Obama was planning to circumvent a Senate confirmation and appoint Warren as CFPB chief had some republican Senators hopping mad.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., sent Obama a letter on Wednesday expressing his “concern” for the President’s plans to bypass the intent of the Dodd-Frank Act passed this summer, which established a confirmation process for the new head of the CFPB. “I hope, as sometimes happens in Washington, these reports prove to be unfounded,” Corker wrote.
A spokesperson for Warren told AdvisorOne that she was currently not available for press interviews. The creation of the CFPB, where it would be housed, and what authority it would have was a major sticking point for lawmakers who were part of the conference debate on the Dodd-Frank Act. In early August, a group of 141 leading law and other professors from across the U.S. sent a letter to Obama encouraging him to appoint Warren as CFPB chief.
Corker continued in his letter that “it is a key responsibility of the U.S. Senate and its committees of jurisdiction to advise and consent and one that I believe was not meant to be abdicated by the Executive Branch’s use of appointments. I strongly believe the intent of the Dodd-Frank legislation was to have the head of this bureau go through the nomination, vetting and confirmation process.”
The nomination, vetting, and confirmation process, Corker said, “is an important tool to ensure that a qualified, nonpartisan individual will head this agency and be accountable to Congress, taxpayers and the safety and soundness of the banking system of this country in the face of tenuous economic conditions.”
Corker went on to say that the person who heads the new agency will have “…unfettered and unchecked authorities, which makes the confirmation process even more important to the interests of the American people. The individual who heads this bureau will be able to make rules, with ultimately no checks and balances, that could have broad reaching implications for the U.S. economy as it relates to accessing credit, social justice and the safety and soundness of the U.S. banking system.” The job of CFPB chief, he said, “is disproportionately reliant on the decisions of one individual with access to large sums of taxpayer monies to carry out the agency agenda. Taxpayers deserve better stewardship in the determination of who will take on this responsibility.”