President Barack Obama is expected to make a recess appointment Wednesday, announcing that former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray will be named director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“I’ve said before that I will continue to look for every opportunity to work with Congress to move this country forward,” Obama said. “But when Congress refuses to act in a way that hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.”
Senior White House officials told the Associated Press that the move will bring criticism from Senate Republicans. They have tried to block Obama for making any recess appointments by keeping the Senate in a ‘pro forma’ session.
“Although the Senate is not in recess, President Obama, in an unprecedented move, has arrogantly circumvented the American people by ‘recess’ appointing Richard Cordray as director of the new CFPB,” he said. “This recess appointment represents a sharp departure from a long-standing precedent that has limited the president to recess appointments only when the Senate is in a recess of 10 days or longer.”
“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,” he wrote. “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. 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.”
Senate Republicans have remained steadfast in blocking Cordray’s confirmation, just as they blocked Obama’s first nominee, Harvard professor and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. They view the consumer bureau as fundamentally flawed and vowed to block any nominee chosen by Obama.
The Consumer Financial Bureau was created in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. It was designed to protect consumers by overseeing any questionable actions from mortgage companies, payday lenders, debt collectors and other financial institutions seen as having caused the most harm to the U.S. economy in the last several years.
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