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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.


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Expressly to keep that from happening, Republicans in the Senate have had the Senate running in "pro forma" sessions, meaning open for business in name with no actual business planned. Democrats started the practice under Bush to halt him from making recess appointments.

The Senate held such a session on Tuesday and planned another one on Friday. Republicans contend Obama cannot make a recess appointment during such a break of less than three days, based on years of precedent, and they point to comments by Obama’s own Justice Department echoing that view.

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Regardless, the Obama White House now contends such an approach is a gimmick.

For all practical purposes, the Senate is in recess and Obama is free to make the appointment on his own, without Senate confirmation, administration officials said.

McConnell shot back that Obama’s move "lands this appointee in uncertain legal territory, threatens the confirmation process and fundamentally endangers the Congress’ role in providing a check on the excesses of the executive branch."

The president also was expected to announce other recess appointments, possibly including nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.

Republicans have had little opposition if any to the qualifications of Cordray. Their objection is with the consumer agency itself.

Obama and his team say lawmakers should try to revise the Wall Street oversight law if they don’t like it, not keep the agency from performing its job.

Before his remarks Wednesday, Obama met with a family that got taken advantage of by a mortgage broker. He wanted to use their story as an example of how the consumer agency can crack down on such practices.

Obama was focusing on the most Democratic congressional district in Ohio, a Cleveland suburb, a day after Mitt Romney won Iowa’s Republican presidential caucuses by just eight votes. Obama’s trip signals the White House’s intent to keep the president in the public eye even as the political world focuses on the GOP’s selection process.


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