The White House will use President Barack Obama’s recess appointment powers to name Prof. Elizabeth Warren head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if that is their only option, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) said Thursday.Frank, the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, told reporters he “cannot believe” that the President told Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that he wouldn’t appoint anyone to head that agency, as some reports had indicated.
“My understanding is that they will make a recess appointment. It is their intention – I’ve talked to them – to appoint someone, and if there is no chance of confirmation then by recess appointment,” Frank said. “I’ve had conversations with people in the administration and they intend to go forward.”
Frank, speaking at at news conference with members of Congress who had signed a letter to Obama asking him to use his recess appointment power to give Warren the slot, said that sexism played a role in the opposition to her appointment.
“The fact that she’s a woman is a part of this; financial regulation has been very male preserve,” Frank said. “There is no question that the effort to demonize Elizabeth Warren is in part because a woman shouldn’t be telling bankers what to do.
“That’s not appropriate. Some people think that for a woman to be in a heightened position regarding the titans of the financial industry is not appropriate,” Frank said. “Consumer issues are issues that women are very much concerned about. Woman are the handlers of family finance, they are often taken advantage of.”
Frank said he would prefer Warren be named to head the agency via the normal process. However, he rejected arguments that a less controversial candidate would fare any better, saying Republicans had made clear they would reject any candidate unless the agency was weakened.
“My Republican colleagues can’t announce they will not confirm anybody, and then object to a recess appointment. You can’t set the building on fire, and then complain when people come out the fire exit,” Frank said.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) called the GOP’s actions “an extreme abuse of the confirmation process” from “members of let’s-pretend-the-financial-crisis-never-happened caucus.”
Additional reporting by Igor Bobic.