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Warren Battles With GOP Over Consumer Protection Director

Monday, February 18, 2013

 

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and some of her Democratic colleagues are pushing Senate Republicans to stop filibustering and take an up-or-down vote on the confirmation of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and Warren is turning to the grassroots network that led her to victory in 2012 for back up.

In an email to supporters over the weekend, Warren, who was a driving force behind the creation of the CFPB in 2010, asked that they sign a petition demanding an up-or-down vote from the GOP, which is blocking Cordray's re-nomination to the top post at the consumer watchdog agency.

Cordray, a Democrat and former Attorney General of Ohio, has held the position since January 2012 when President Barack Obama used a recess appointment to install him as director. However, that recess appointment is in jeopardy after an appeals court ruled that other recess appointments Obama made at during the same period were unconstitutional. The President re-nominated Cordray last month.

Warren ran down a list of the CFPB's achievements under Cordray, such as forcing credit card companies to return almost $500 million they had cheated from consumers, helping students access more and better information about student loans and issuing new rules for mortgages to protect borrowers and "level the playing field" between community banks and credit unions and the big banks of Wall Street.

"But for two years, Senate Republicans have held Richard Cordray hostage, saying they will block any vote on Director unless the Senate Democrats agree to weaken the agency and limit its ability to hold the big banks and credit card companies accountable," Warren said.

"It took hundreds of thousands of people across the country fighting for an up-or-down vote to get a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau--and now it's going to take hundreds of thousands of people fighting to get Rich Cordray confirmed."

In addition to her online petition, Warren joined with Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) to demand action from Senate Republicans last week. The three Senate Banking Committee members said the GOP's obstruction puts consumers at risk and undermines the nation's economy.

“Every year, hard-working American families lose millions of dollars to deceptive financial practices like hidden fees and predatory lending. The CFPB is there to help keep families from getting scammed," said Reed. "They are shining a spotlight on predatory loan practices and products--bringing them into the light, where they can be seen and stopped. We must not let opponents of Wall Street reform turn back the clock on consumer protection. Instead of preventing the CFPB from doing its job, opponents of the agency should take an up or down vote. A well-regulated marketplace is good for the economy. It improves consumer and business confidence and ensures fair competition."

Since starting operations in July 2011, the CFPB's Consumer Response center has heard from more than 100,000 consumers to help them navigate individual issues with everything from bank accounts to student loans to credit cards to mortgages.

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau stands up for average Americans,” Brown said. “And yet, Wall Street special interests and their allies in Congress have repeatedly refused to approve anyone to serve as the Director unless the agency’s authority is watered down. The American people are fed up with the obstructionism in Washington. We need to protect this agency that protects American families.” 

 

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