Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), experienced a less-than-cordial reception during a Senate Banking Committee hearing yesterday, with Senate Republicans launching direct complaints against the legality of his Jan. 4 recess appointment.
According to media reports of the hearing, Republican senators openly questioned the constitutionality of the recess appointment, which President Obama made while the Senate maintained pro forma sessions.
‘If we accept the premise of your validity in this position, then our ability to offer advice and consent basically disappears,’ said Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb. ‘I don't know how anyone could maintain at this point that your appointment and your service in this position is valid."
‘I'm concerned that you've already developed a propensity for how to use technicalities to achieve your own goals,’ said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala, the committee's ranking member, adding that the appointment's legal standing would probably require a Supreme Court ruling.
Four Senate Republicans – Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, David Vitter of Louisiana and Roger Wicker of Mississippi – boycotted the meeting, stating that their presence would provide formal acknowledgement of Cordray's position.
For his part, Cordray deflected the criticism surrounding the recess appointment.
‘I have been appointed as director,’ he said. ‘I now have legal obligations I'm supposed to carry out for this bureau. I'm going to do that.’
Cordray also addressed concerns that the CFPB would operate as a rogue agency.
‘The accountability here lies in our bureau to Congress. You are the ones that pass the laws that give us the law, the only authority we have to do anything – we are responsible to you,’ Cordray said. ‘We will listen closely to you and make sure you know exactly what you need to know and have input in that work.’