After the Senate voted Thursday against allowing the nomination process for Richard Cordray to proceed, President Obama told reporters that he would not rule out the possibility of using a recess appointment to make Cordray the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
‘I will not take any options off the table when it comes to getting Richard Cordray in as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,’ Obama said.
The nomination process was blocked by a 53-45 vote Thursday. Every Republican other than Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., voted against the measure, while all voting Democrats supported it.
While speaking to reporters, Obama played up the qualifications and reputation of Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general and treasurer. Obama also said that the vote was representative of a larger Republican effort to delay votes on the White House's nominations. Republicans have challenged the leadership structure of the CFPB, but have been slow to attack Cordray's qualifications.
Republicans who want to change the CFPB to a committee-run entity rather than a director-led one should offer legislation of their own instead of preventing the implementation of a bill that has already been signed into law, Obama said.
"They're free to introduce a bill and get that passed, but that's part of what's happened on Capitol Hill – not just this issue but every issue – is they'll hold up nominations," he said.
"Americans deserve the full protections signed into law under Wall Street reform," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in a statement. "The longer the Senate fails to confirm Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the longer they will be denied that protection."
Several consumer-focused organizations also released statements Thursday bashing the vote.
"Today, political partisanship and mega-bank pressure has dealt a defeat to the American people," said Todd Larsen, corporate responsibility director for Green America.
‘It's no wonder there's so much cynicism about Washington these days,’ said Pamela Banks, senior counsel for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. ‘Americans spent billions of dollars to bail out the big banks, and now the agency that was created to protect consumers from unfair financial practices is under attack by some lawmakers in Congress.’