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Senate Republicans Must Cease Political Extortion

"Bart Naylor" "Financial policy"Public Citizen denounces today’s anti-consumer vote by Republican senators during the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs vote on the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. These senators vowed to block any nominee on the Senate floor.

Congress created this keystone agency of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to combat “unfair, deceptive and abusive” banking practices. But large bank lobbyists and their supporters in Congress have fought the CFPB at every juncture, with bizarre congressional hearings questioning the zeal of chief architect Elizabeth Warren, attacks on its budget and now a refusal to permit the confirmation of its proposed agency head – for reasons having nothing to do with the nominee’ qualifications.

None of these senators raised objections to Cordray during his Sept. 6 nomination hearing. In fact, ranking member U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) called the qualifications of Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, Marshall scholar at Oxford and clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, “good.” But Shelby has acknowledged that there’s another fight he’s waging, and blocking Cordray’s nomination will be his weapon. In the spring, Shelby organized 44 Republican senators to pledge they’d exploit Senate rules to block any nominee if President Barack Obama doesn’t eviscerate the powers of this critical new agency.

There are consequences to the Republicans’ reckless actions. The Republicans choose to make a political point at the expense of the low-income workers forced into exorbitant payday loans and other victims of predatory banking abuses that require a confirmed CFPB director to combat.