Cordray Nominationby Senator Sherrod Brown
Posted on 2013-02-12
BROWN. Mr. President, I was concerned when I saw a number of my
colleagues are again trying to block the appointment of Ohioan Richard
Cordray to the consumer agency. That agency has already played a
significant role in saving tens of millions of dollars for consumers
who have been wronged in a checking account transaction, who have been
nickel-and-dimed, and then some by bank fees.
Former Ohio Attorney General Cordray has done an excellent job as the Director of that consumer bureau. But what troubles me is this is only the second time in the history of the Senate, at least as far as the Senate Historian can figure, when a group of Senators from one party has blocked the nomination of a Presidential appointee because they do not like the agency, because they oppose the construct of the agency itself.
The first time that ever happened was just a couple of years ago with Richard Cordray in this position. The creation of the consumer bureau went through regular order. It was passed by the Senate Banking Committee, on which I sit. It was part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill, and it went to the House of Representatives. It went to conference committee. All that happened was regular order to create this agency.
Many people didn't like the agency. I submit I agree with that. I understand that. I don't agree that it is not a good agency. They don't like the agency in large part because it stood up to Wall Street, and it stood up to some of the bank abuses that put us in this financial situation as a country with the damage it did to our economy.
Even with that, if you don't like the agency, as I said, never before in history except these two times--with the same appointment process, the same appointee, the same designee, the same nominee of the President--has this happened whereby my colleagues said: Even though he is qualified, we are not going to vote to confirm Richard Cordray because we don't like the agency. If you are not willing to change the agency, we are not willing to support a director.
Imagine the kind of precedent that sets where if you don't like an agency, you are never going to let the President confirm a leader of that agency--in any agency of the Federal Government. If you don't like food safety, then you are going to block the appointment. If you don't like transportation, something in the Transportation Department, you don't like something else, you are going to vote against somebody taking the job to run the agency.
Government can't run that way. The government will be dysfunctional if this precedent is set and is ongoing, in addition to the fact that Cordray is right for the job. Also, this agency is important for the middle class, for working-class people, and for low-income people who need these consumer protections.
It sets a very bad precedent for this body. I am hopeful some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will think clearly about this and move ahead on the nomination and confirmation process.