Newly appointed ""Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) director Richard Cordray fended off another round of concern and criticism at a congressional hearing Tuesday even as he portrayed Congress as an important check on the bureau's power.[IMAGE]
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle stayed true to their parties' positions by alternately casting Cordray's recess appointment as a potentially dangerous abuse of presidential power and as a needed solution to congressional gridlock.
Sen. ""Richard Shelby"":http://shelby.senate.gov/public/ (R-Alabama), a frequent and outspoken critic of the CFPB, reasserted his suspicions in his opening remarks by calling the bureau ""intentionally designed... to be free of the most basic checks and balances.""
""Unfortunately, the president has circumvented one of the most basic checks with his recess appointment,"" he added.
He fired off a number of questions about accountability and appropriations, calling into doubt the CFPB's ability to collaborate with banks and businesses in the absence of significant congressional oversight.[COLUMN_BREAK]
Asked by Shelby how he intended to carry out his responsibilities in spite of oft-rumored legal challenges ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a point he said the Supreme Court may address ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô Cordray said that the Dodd-Frank Act ""gives me responsibility under the law├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬ª. My legal responsibility is to do the best job I can at the moment.""
Testy relations frequently occurred between Cordray and other lawmakers.
When Sen. ""Bob Corker"":http://www.corker.senate.gov/public/ (R-Tennessee) addressed the reporting process for the CFPB, the director responded by saying simply, ""We're subject to being brought up here and having you grill us.""
""I hope we can end this idea of a boycott,"" Sen. ""Chuck Schumer"":http://schumer.senate.gov/ (D-New York) said at another juncture, adding: ""People are tired of obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism"" and lawmakers need to ""rejoin the debate on the playing field rather than [take] their ball and [go] home.""
The mortgage marketplace reentered the conversation closer to the end of the hearing when Sen. ""Kay Hagan"":http://hagan.senate.gov/ (R-North Carolina) inquired about the status of the Qualified Mortgage, which may obligate mortgage originators and brokers to take into account tough new standards for a borrower's ability to repay.
Cordray characterized the ability-to-repay rule as ""one of the rules Congress has required us to adopt to fix what is seen as and what were irregularities in the mortgage market.""
He said that the CFPB had received ""hundreds, if not thousands"" of comments from the public and industry, and planned to move forward with it by yearend.
""It is something that is very much on our minds,"" he told lawmakers.