Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Haraz N. Ghanbari | The Associated Press) President Barack Obama, accompanied by Richard Cordray, speaks during his visits with William and Endia Eason, not pictured, on Wednesday at their home in Cleveland, Ohio. President Obama bucked GOP opposition and named Cordray as the nation's chief consumer watchdog. Outraged Republican leaders in Congress suggested that courts would determine the appointment was illegal.
Obama bypasses Senate, installs new consumer-protection chief
New agency » The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau now can start overseeing the mortgage companies, payday lenders, debt collectors and other much-criticized financial operations.
First Published Jan 04 2012 09:42 am • Last Updated Jan 04 2012 02:40 pm

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio • A defiant President Barack Obama, tired of Senate Republicans stalling his nominee to lead a new consumer protection agency, put him in charge Wednesday over their opposition.

"I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer," the president said.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Outraged GOP leaders in Congress immediately suggested that courts would determine whether Richard Cordray’s appointment was illegal.

With a director in place, Obama said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can start overseeing the mortgage companies, payday lenders, debt collectors and other financial operations often blamed for practices that helped undermine the economy.

Obama announced the move with Cordray by his side before a cheering crowd in Ohio, a politically vital state where Cordray once was attorney general.

"Every day that we waited was another day when millions of Americans are left unprotected," Obama.

Until Cordray took over, the office didn’t have all the tools needed "to protect consumers against dishonest mortgage brokers or payday lenders, and debt collectors who are taking advantage of consumers," Obama said. "And that’s inexcusable. It’s wrong."

In political terms, the recess appointment during the congressional break raised the level of confrontation for a president seeking re-election by championing the middle class and challenging an unpopular Congress. Acting right after Tuesday’s GOP presidential caucuses in Iowa, Obama sought to grab attention and show he would not be slowed, making his most brazen leap-frog over Congress.

Senate Republicans had halted Cordray’s nomination because they think the consumer agency is too powerful and unaccountable.

The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, accused Obama of an unprecedented power grab that "arrogantly circumvented the American people."

story continues below
story continues below

Added House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio: "It’s clear the president would rather trample our system of separation of powers than work with Republicans to move the country forward. This action goes beyond the president’s authority, and I expect the courts will find the appointment to be illegitimate."

It was unclear who might undertake a legal fight. But people familiar with the matter said an outside private group regulated by the consumer agency might be in the best legal position.

By going around the Senate, where Democrats hold an edge but Republicans can block action, Obama essentially declared that the chamber’s short off-and-on sessions are a sham intended to block him, but don’t prevent him from such an appointment.

Yet it was his own party that started the practice when Republican George W. Bush was president.

In reality, Obama had little choice to get the consumer agency fully running after months of stalemate.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer announced Obama’s move on Twitter after senior administration officials first confirmed it to The Associated Press. Obama spokesman Jay Carney said White House lawyers have determined Obama is within his bounds to appoint Cordray now.

Cordray, who’s expected to take over this week, stands to serve for at least the next two years, until the end of the Senate’s next session, the White House said.

At a high school in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, Obama said Republicans were only blocking Cordray because they wanted to water down consumer protections.

"I’m not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people we were elected to serve," he said.

More than a standoff over one significant appointment, the fight speaks to the heart of a presidential campaign under way. Presiding over a troubled but improving economy, Obama’s must persuade a weary middle class that he is their advocate, while fending off criticism from Republicans challengers and lawmakers.

Obama has constitutional power to make appointments during a congressional recess.

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.