Showdown Over Vacancy At Consumer Protection Bureau Looms

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created as an agency aimed at protecting consumers from unfair practices in financial markets. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was a central figure in establishing the bureau in response to the financial crisis in 2008.

The current Director of the CFPB, Richard Cordray announced that he will step down from his position effective the end of November. Cordray was met with opposition from congressional Republicans from the moment he was appointed to fill the position as many Republicans opposed the creation of the bureau altogether.

Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said of Cordray:

“Richard Cordray is a true champion for American consumers. Under his outstanding leadership, the Consumer Bureau has made the financial marketplace stronger and fairer for hardworking Americans across the country.”

While Cordray’s departure did not come as a huge surprise, the battle to temporarily fill his position is taking a surprising turn. The President appoints the director of the CFPB, a position that must be confirmed by the Senate.

The President, claiming authority under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, appointed the current director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney interim director of the CFPB. Mulvaney, while serving in Congress, voted to do away with the CFPB altogether.

While this seems relatively straightforward, the interim appointment came shortly after exiting director Cordray named his own successor. This move created confusion and may signal a showdown to come over who will lead the agency.

Senator Warren helped to create the CFPB and explained via Twitter on Friday night that the financial reform law Dodd-Frank establishes that the agency’s deputy director assumes the role of the acting director if that position becomes vacant.

Upon leaving his position, Cordray named Leandra English, his chief of staff, as deputy director. In her position as deputy director, she will take over as acting director when Cordray leaves his position.

Warren pointed that the President “can’t override that.” She said the President “can nominate the next director — but until that nominee is confirmed by the Senate, Leandra English is the Acting Director under the Dodd-Frank Act.”

An administration official told reporters on Saturday that the President’s nomination of Mulvaney supersedes the Dodd-Frank statute. English is set to begin in her position as deputy director to Cordray, who has not yet left, on Monday.

The administration had this to say about the conflict:

“We have gone out of our way to avoid an unnecessary legal battle with Mr. Cordray. His actions clearly indicate that he is trying to provoke one.”

Check out this video of Sen. Warren fighting to protect consumers:

Featured Image Via YouTube Video.