House members sound off on Obama’s nominee

As I reported yesterday, President Obama today nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created under last year’s financial industry reform law.

Obama reportedly had wanted Elizabeth Warren – who essentially conceived of and designed the bureau – to direct it, but Republicans threatened to filibuster her confirmation. A lot of liberals, including most of the Bay Area’s House delegation, had urged him to put her in the job as a recess appointment. Some of them spoke out today, even as Warren blogged forcefully in support of Cordray and activists launch a petition drive to draft Warren into next year’s U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts.

“East Bay consumers, families and retirees deserved the best protection from irresponsible Wall Street actions, and Elizabeth Warren is the best, hands down. But that was not to be,” Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, said in response to my query today. “And in the end, this fight is not just about her, it is about the fact that Republicans in Congress are determined to repeal the consumer protection policies we enacted in our Wall Street Reform law last year. Just look, now Senate Republicans are opposing President Obama’s nominee, Richard Cordray, proving that they want to let Wall Street run wild, again, despite the economic disaster that caused for middle class families and our country.”

honda.jpg“It’s deeply disappointing that Republicans blocked consideration of the inimitable Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but I have no doubt that Richard Cordray, who currently serves as CFPB’s director of enforcement, will fight equally effectively for consumer protections, protecting Main Street from the tentacles of Wall Street,” Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, said in response to my query. “On the heels of this country’s recent and devastating recession, I find it shocking that Republicans do not want a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to advocate for working families and consumers’ interests and find it appalling that they’re doing everything in their power to weaken or block it.”

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, issued a news release calling Cordray “a sound choice.”

“But make no mistake—American consumers are losing perhaps their greatest champion in Elizabeth Warren. She will always be the mother of the CFPB and its biggest advocate. The treatment she has received from Congressional Republicans has been disgraceful,” Speier said. “The 2008 financial crisis showed that American families need a cop on the beat when it comes to consumer protection around mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products. Instead of considering a bill to weaken the CFPB as Republicans will this week, they should support Mr. Cordray’s swift confirmation so he can begin this important work. Consumers have waited long enough.”

More after the jump…

“I was among the many lawmakers who urged President Obama to make a recess appointment establishing Elizabeth Warren as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency,” Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, acknowledged in reply to my query. “Though he didn’t take our advice, the President did nominate Richard Cordray, another strong pick. Cordray has a Progressive track record of fighting for the middle class and protecting consumers. I’m confident he’ll continue Warren’s enormously important work to create this Agency, which will finally ensure our financial system works for everyday Americans, not just big corporations. I hope the Senate does the right thing and confirms him quickly. I also hope that Elizabeth Warren will continue her valuable service to this country by becoming our next Senator from Massachusetts.”

UPDATE @2:45 P.M.: “This is an extremely important agency, necessary for the protection of all Americans, whether they have a home mortgage or a credit card,” Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said in response to my query. “The President appointed a person who will aggressively protect consumers. I look forward to his work. I also want to thank Elizabeth Warren for her hard work in establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. With proper resources, this institution will strengthen our economic security for years to come.”

UPDATE @ 2:55 P.M.: “By all accounts, Richard Cordray is a very capable public servant, with a great deal of expertise, who shares Elizabeth Warren’s vigilance as a consumer advocate. If Senate Republicans will see fit to confirm him, I have every confidence that he will do an excellent job,” Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, said in response to my query. “The most important thing is that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau be up and running with strong leadership. Despite the enormous abuses in the financial system that nearly brought the economy to its knees, Republicans have repeatedly sought to undermine new regulations that will curb the excesses of large financial institutions. In fact this week, House Republicans are bringing legislation to the floor that would weaken the Bureau. I hope that they will honor the Dodd-Frank legislation as the law of the land, confirm Mr. Cordray and let this important new agency do its job.”

UPDATE @ 3:21 P.M.: “I’m disappointed that Elizabeth Warren will not be the Director of the CFPB because she is such a powerful voice on the side of the American consumer and because she was the driving force behind the creation of the first stand alone agency whose only mission is the protection of those consumers,” Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said. “While I support Richard Cordray’s nomination, I remain concerned that the Republicans will obstruct confirmation of any candidate for this critical position because they simply don’t want to see this critical agency stand up against the special interests and abuses of Wall Street.”

Said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: “I congratulate Richard Cordray and hope he possesses the guts, the determination, and some of the DNA of Elizabeth Warren on behalf of consumers across America.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.