In the nearly two months since members of Congress held a confirmation hearing for nominee Rich Cordray, little has changed in the debate over appointing a director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The vote is now in the hands of the full Senate, after the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs approved Corday on a vote of 12-10.
Many Republicans in the House and Senate have not backed off on their promise to vote against any nominee unless the leadership of the agency is changed to a commission rather than a single director.
“Virtually all independent agencies are led by bipartisan panels rather than a single director. This includes the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which was the model Professor Elizabeth Warren used for the creation of the CFPB. These agencies were established with bipartisan commissions to ensure their rules are fair, consistent and balanced, and to promote certainty and continuity,” read a Oct. 21 post on the blog of Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Senate Financial Services Committee.
Rep. Bachus’ blog also points out that Democrats originally supported a commission structure for the new agency. In July 2009, Sen. Barney Frank introduced H.R. 3216, which outlined plans for a five-member board to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Bachus has co-sponsored a more recent bill, introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) to establish a five-member commission to lead the CFPB, which the House passed in July.
American Banker’s Bank Think blog weighed in on the matter, with an opinion column by Roland E. Brandel, senior counsel with Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. He wrote:
A single director, no matter how intelligent, how well educated, how experienced, how well-meaning, and how well supported by staff, research and studies, faces limitations every human faces with respect to each of such qualifications. If the ultimate policy powers of the bureau are vested in a commission, one that consists of persons also highly qualified, important policy decisions will be informed by the multiple bases of differing experience, education and values of those commissioners. A give and take of those commissioners should result in decisions superior to those that would be made by a single director.
At the same time, a bipartisan group of 37 state attorneys general wrote a letter urging Congress to approve Cordray, who is the former attorney general of Ohio.
“The CFPB is intended to make basic financial practices such as taking out a mortgage or a loan more clear and transparent. It is also charged with ferreting out unfair lending practices. Mr. Cordray knows that such actions will not only protect consumers but will also assist community bankers and other financial companies that are committed to honest dealing and quality customer service,” the Oct. 18 letter read.