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Dems Press Obama To Recess Appoint Elizabeth Warren To Run Consumer Bureau

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They have vowed that they will not allow consideration of any nominee to head the CFPB until the bureau is weakened. They would rather hold your appointment hostage and obstruct the process than make sure consumers have a strong advocate on their side.

Since Republican Senators have said that no one is acceptable unless the law is weakened, we would urge you to nominate Professor Warren as the CFPB's first Director anyway. If Republicans in the Senate indeed refuse to consider her, we request that you use your constitutional authority to make her a recess appointment.

The letter was authored by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Brad Miller (D-NC), who are collecting signatures from their colleagues.

The CFPB was created as part of the recently enacted Wall Street reform bill, over significant opposition from Republicans and influential industry players, to protect consumers from predatory financial practices. President Obama appointed Warren to stand up the agency in an advisory capacity ahead of the 2010 election. But it will soon migrate from the Treasury Department to be housed within the Federal Reserve, and will need Senate-confirmed director to officially run the show. Because of objections from Republicans, financial services lobbyists, and even some Democrats, Warren was thought to be unconfirmable, and thus not a likely candidate for the nomination.

However, Senate Republicans recently gave Obama a way out. Almost every one of them signed a letter vowing to block any nominee -- even a Republican one -- until Democrats agreed to weaken the bureau by statute.

Because of Senate filibuster rules, Obama won't be able to confirm even a consensus director without undermining the central mission of the bureau. That leaves a recess appointment as his only option -- he can pick whomever he wants, and Warren is a popular choice among progressives and reform advocates.

Read the entire letter below.

May 18, 2011

Dear Mr. President,

We appreciate your leadership last year in supporting the strong financial reforms in the Dodd-Frank bill that responded to the financial meltdown on Wall Street that led to the worst recession since the Depression.

A key element of that effort was the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the goals of making prices clear, risks clear, making financial markets work for families and particularly protecting service members and their families from abusive financial practices. Since you appointed Professor Warren to "stand up" the bureau, she has laid the foundation as a strong advocate for consumers--something that seems to strike fear among those who are opposed to reform.

Regretfully, Republicans in the Senate have now made it clear that they oppose reform. They have vowed that they will not allow consideration of any nominee to head the CFPB until the bureau is weakened. They would rather hold your appointment hostage and obstruct the process than make sure consumers have a strong advocate on their side.

Since Republican Senators have said that no one is acceptable unless the law is weakened, we would urge you to nominate Professor Warren as the CFPB's first Director anyway. If Republicans in the Senate indeed refuse to consider her, we request that you use your constitutional authority to make her a recess appointment. We can think of no better person to be the first Director of this incredibly important consumer financial protection regulator.

Sincerely,

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com