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Political Tensions Alive at Cordray Hearing

A confirmation hearing for ""Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) director-nominee Richard Cordray largely went as expected for the ""Senate Banking Committee"":http://banking.senate.gov/public/ Tuesday, with Democratic members defending the federal agency and Republicans heaping criticism on it. Lingering tensions found their way into exchanges between lawmakers from both parties, in and outside the committee room.

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For his part, Cordray used his opportunity before the committee to downplay the array of rule-making authority and supervisory abilities for which the CFPB is responsible.

Reading from a ""prepared statement"":http://banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=34fb5952-05b5-409f-801a-d9471615ff3c, he said that his experience as Ohio attorney general offered up the idea that ""lawsuits can be a very slow, wasteful, and needlessly acrimonious way to resolve a problem.""

He pledged to ""judiciously"" deploy the CFPB's powers by first attempting to resolve compliance disputes outside of the litigation process.

Cordray went on to say that ""enforcement... will still have an important role at the Consumer Bureau. If people are ignoring or evading consumer protections laws ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and seeking to gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô then litigation is an essential tool.""

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The committee hearing played the part of another forum in which lawmakers found reason to fight each other over the controversial nomination process, from which ""President Barack Obama"":http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama ejected CFPB architect Elizabeth Warren in July.

""MSNBC"":http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44413026/ns/business-consumer_news/ quoted ""Sen. Richard Shelby"":http://shelby.senate.gov/public/ (R-Alabama) as describing the bureau's director as one that is too powerful for any one federal agency, saying in his opening statement that ""government should be accountable to the people.""

Committee chairman ""Sen. Tim Johnson"":http://johnson.senate.gov/public/ (D-South Dakota) fired back by calling Republican measures ""political gamesmanship"" that prevents ""Americans from receiving the consumer protections they deserve.""

More recently, outside the committee room, ""Rep. Barney Frank"":http://www.house.gov/frank/ (D-Massachusetts) published a ""_Washington Post_"":http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-senate-refuses-to-consider-obama-nominees/2011/09/01/gIQA2AkJvJ_story.html column criticizing 44 Republican colleagues for their avowed opposition to any CFPB director-nominee, calling their measures ones that ""blatantly distort... the Constitution, substituting a refusal to allow the constitutionally mandated nomination process for the legislative process in which they [Republicans] simply do not have the votes to accomplish what they want.""

Speaking to _MReport_, Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies with the ""Cato Institute"":http://www.cato.org/, says ""it is incredibly hard for me to see them letting this guy move forward."" He adds that the decision to confirm or not will ""be along party lines, and the question will be whether they want to devote any time.""

He says that he believes Cordray will leverage his media attention as CFPB director-nominee to return for election to higher office in Ohio.

He calls Cordray a ""perennial candidate,"" and says that he has no doubt that ""he'll be back running for office in Ohio sometime soon.""

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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