America's Consumer Watchdog

Today the President will appoint Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  He has one important job: look out for the best interest of American consumers.  He’ll work on behalf of millions of families across the nation to ensure they’re not being taken advantage of by debt collectors and credit reporting agencies.  As America’s consumer watchdog, Cordray will work to ensure that families and students don’t get saddled with sky-high interest rates by mortgage or payday lenders.  Bottom line: he’ll strengthen oversight and accountability in order to protect millions of families across the nation.  This is an important step to protect the American people.

The President nominated Mr. Cordray last summer.  Unfortunately, Republicans in the Senate blocked his confirmation.  They refused to let the Senate go forward with an up or down vote.  It’s not because Republicans think Cordray isn’t qualified for the job, they simply believe that the American public doesn’t need a watchdog at all.  Well, we disagree. 

And we can’t wait for Republicans in the Senate to act.  Now, you might hear some folks across the aisle criticize this “recess appointment.” It’s probably the same folks who don’t think we need a tough consumer watchdog in the first place.  Those critics might tell you that Wall Street should write their own rules.  Or you might hear them say the American people are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves.  Again, we disagree with those critics.

Here are the facts:  The Constitution gives the President the authority to make temporary recess appointments to fill vacant positions when the Senate is in recess, a power all recent Presidents have exercised.  The Senate has effectively been in recess for weeks, and is expected to remain in recess for weeks.  In an overt attempt to prevent the President from exercising his authority during this period, Republican Senators insisted on using a gimmick called “pro forma” sessions, which are sessions during which no Senate business is conducted and instead one or two Senators simply gavel in and out of session in a matter of seconds.  But gimmicks do not override the President’s constitutional authority to make appointments to keep the government running.  Legal experts agree.  In fact, the lawyers who advised President Bush on recess appointments wrote that the Senate cannot use sham “pro forma” sessions to prevent the President from exercising a constitutional power. 

Because of the President’s leadership and decisive action, the American people will have a consumer watchdog fighting tooth and nail on their behalf.  The President knows this is a make or break moment for the middle class and he’ll continue to build an economy that’s based on the values of fairness and shared responsibility.  Today’s announcement is a critical piece to strengthen the economy and restore the economic security for the middle class and those trying to reach it.  Mr. Cordray is the right man for the job and we’re pleased he’s finally in place to continue his important work.

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Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director
Related Topics: Economy