GOP vows to block consumer agency nominee

May 6, 2011 at 11:46 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- Senate Republicans vowed to block any nominee tapped to lead the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless changes are made to the federal agency.

In a letter sent to President Obama Thursday, 44 Republicans called for an overhaul of the bureau created last year in the financial regulatory reform bill, pledging they would filibuster any nominee Obama offers as its director, Roll Call reported.

The CFPB director has "unprecedented authority over financial institutions" under the law and could threaten to "affect every American household by limiting their choices when purchasing financial products," the senators wrote.

The mandate in the Dodd-Frank Act did not provide "any real checks" on the director's powers, the senators said, meaning "[once] confirmed, the director effectively answers to no one."

The GOP lawmakers called on Obama to replace the individual director with a board and give Congress oversight through the appropriation process.

Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the only Republican senators who did not sign the letter, released by Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, Roll Call said.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's regulatory powers take effect in July, and so far Obama has not named a director. Harvard University law Professor Elizabeth Warren has overseen getting the agency off the ground.

Shelby also urged Obama not to issue a recess appointment to get around the confirmation process.

"Senate confirmation is about accountability and giving the American people a voice in the process," Shelby said. "I would hope the president won't silence the people's voice."

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