GOP Filibusters Top Consumer Protection Nominee

December 8, 2011 6:37 a.m.

This post was updated at 11:55 a.m.

As they promised they would, the overwhelming majority of Republicans on Wednesday filibustered Richard Cordray, the uncontroversial former Ohio Attorney General whom President Obama tapped to be the director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — an agency tasked with mitigating fraudulent and dangerous financial products.

The final vote was 53-45, with one Senator, Olympia Snowe (R-ME) voting present and one, John Kerry (D-MA) not on hand to vote. GOP Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) — running for re-election against the CFPB’s godmother Elizabeth Warren — joined the Democrats in supporting Cordray.The promise dates back months, to a letter the GOP sent to the White House demanding that the new agencies power be weakened in key ways before they’d drop their filibuster of any nominee — an unprecedented condition on the confirmation of the head of an executive agency.

Democrats and President Obama are welcoming the fight. Obama has made a public issue out of the GOP’s vow to hamstring the agency, and filibuster Cordray. In live remarks from the White House Thursday morning, Obama warned the GOP that the issue won’t go away, and left the possibility of a recess appointment on the table. On Thursday afternoon, he will speak to local news outlets in states represented by vulnerable Republicans — to extract a political price from those members, perhaps, break their will. It’s part of an election-season theme for Obama — that he and Democrats are on the side of the middle class, protecting them from Republicans who represent the financial interests of the wealthiest Americans.

As for actually getting Cordray situated and doing his job, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hinted at a recess appointment. Obama, Schumer said, should do “everything within his power to get Cordray on board.”

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