February 14, 2013

Democrats Stand with President Obama on Cordray Nomination

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) spearheaded a letter to President Obama, signed by 54 Senate Democrats and Independents, commending him for his support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and for renominating Richard Cordray to be Director.  The letter informs the President that a majority in the Senate supports the nomination of Richard Cordray to be director of the CFPB and opposes any structural changes to the Consumer Bureau. Chairman Johnson unveiled the letter with Banking Committee colleagues Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at a press conference this afternoon.  

“American consumers deserve a cop on the beat to advocate for their interests against reckless corporations and their armies of lawyers seeking to take advantage,” said Majority Leader Reid. “Director Cordray has been highly effective in this role, protecting consumers while giving industry a fair hearing and keeping lines of communication open. Republicans are trying to dismantle the consumer protection bureau and put the power back in the hands of big corporations. The American people deserve better – they deserve a fully functional consumer protection bureau with Director Cordray at its head.”

“Under the leadership of Director Cordray, the CFPB has gotten high marks from consumer advocates and industry alike for its balanced and prudent approach to rulemaking and enforcement,” said Chairman Johnson.  “There is simply no proof that structural changes are necessary. It is time to confirm the CFPB Director to give the American people the protections they deserve and the marketplace the certainty it needs to help strengthen our economic recovery.”

“We need a strong CFPB to help families and strengthen our financial marketplace.  Democrats are united against efforts to weaken the law and roll back consumer protections. Blocking Richard Cordray’s nomination and preventing the CFPB from doing its job will backfire because it is against the interests of voters across the country,” said Senator Jack Reed.

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau stands up for average Americans,” Brown said. “And yet, Wall Street special interests and their allies in Congress have repeatedly refused to approve anyone to serve as the Director unless the agency’s authority is watered down. The American people are fed up with the obstructionism in Washington. We need to protect this agency that protects American families.”

“Rich Cordray has the support of a majority of Senators, and it is past time for an up or down vote,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said.  “It has been four years since the financial crisis and almost three years since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act.  The financial industry needs certainty, and families need to know there is a strong and independent watchdog on their side in Washington.  Director Cordray has done an excellent job – winning across-the-board praise from consumer and industry groups and his confirmation will allow for the consistency, clarity, and predictability that our businesses need to plan for the future, serve customers, and create jobs. 

Below is the text of the letter sent to President Obama from Senate Democrats. PDF available here.

The Honorable Barack Obama

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C. 20500 

Dear Mr. President,

We strongly support your decision to renominate Richard Cordray to be Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and pledge to do all we can to secure his confirmation without delay.  Under Director Cordray’s leadership, the CFPB has proved to be an accountable, transparent, and fair regulator, responsive to appropriate Congressional oversight.  We admire the effective manner in which he has established the Bureau’s reputation as a professional, informed, and careful steward of the public trust.  Moreover, it is clear from their public comments that many of our Senate colleagues on the other side of the aisle who oppose his nomination - and even many representatives of the financial services industry who were originally skeptical of his appointment - agree that he is well qualified and has prudently exercised the authorities of the CFPB.

As supporters of strong and effective consumer protection, we oppose efforts to weaken the CFPB through structural changes, including as the price for Senate approval of Director Cordray’s nomination.  Never before has a President’s nominee to lead an agency been blocked, because a minority of Senators do not support the existence of the agency.  It is important to remember that most of the significant checks and balances embodied in the agency’s structure reflect bipartisan ideas agreed to by a supermajority of the Senate when the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was approved two and a half years ago, and there is absolutely no evidence that the agency’s structure requires change. Attempts to force relitigation of issues related to CFPB’s funding and organization by filibustering Director Cordray’s renomination (or that of any other nominee for CFPB Director) are irresponsible and inconsistent with our democratic values. 

One of the most basic lessons learned from the Great Recession was that the failure to adequately protect American consumers has consequences not only for individuals and families, but also for the health of America’s economy.  Without a strong CFPB with a Director at its helm to implement critical reforms and level the playing field between banks and non-banks, our still fragile economic recovery could be dealt a serious setback.  If consumers have confidence in the instruments of consumer finance, they will borrow and spend responsibly, and the risks of a repeat economic crisis will be greatly reduced.  But to spread doubt about the future of one of the major, new institutions designed to bolster confidence in the consumer financial system could substantially increase those risks. 

We support a strong Director to lead the CFPB, to protect consumers and to provide market certainty.  A bipartisan majority of Americans support the agency as currently constituted, and so do we.  We pledge to work with you to strengthen the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers, and we renew our commitment to do all we can to secure Richard Cordray’s confirmation without delay.