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Obama threatens Cordray recess appointment

Dec. 9, 2011 at 4:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama threatened to appoint his choice to head a new consumer watchdog agency when Congress is away for the holiday and can't stop him.

"I will not take any options off the table when it comes to getting Richard Cordray in as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," Obama told reporters Thursday. "The bottom line is, we're going to look at all of our options. My hope and expectation is Republicans who blocked this nomination will come to their senses."

Republican leaders said they intended to combat Obama's recess-appointment threat by keeping the Senate technically in session throughout the holidays.

A recess appointment is a temporary appointment allowed under the Constitution when Congress is not in session. Cordray would remain in the position until the end of 2012 unless he is confirmed by the Senate before then.

The executive-legislative wrangling began after Senate Republicans filibustered Obama's appointment of the former Ohio attorney general as the protection bureau's director.

Senate Democrats were unable to close off debate over Cordray's appointment to let the confirmation proceed, failing 53-45. Sixty votes are needed to end a filibuster.

"This makes no sense," Obama said. "Consumers across the country understand part of the reason we got into the financial mess we did is because regulators are not doing their jobs."

GOP lawmakers had praised Cordray's qualifications -- he is currently the agency's enforcement director -- but said they would confirm no one until significant structural changes were made to the bureau, which began operation July 21.

Those changes include replacing the director with a five-member commission, having other regulatory bodies oversee the agency's decisions and making the agency face the congressional appropriations process. It is currently funded through the Federal Reserve.

The bureau was created with Obama's support in response to deceptive practices of the financial industry that have been blamed in part for the current recession and financial crisis.

The bureau's purpose is to "promote fairness and transparency for mortgages, credit cards, and other consumer financial products and services," the Treasury Department says.

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