Rep. Barney Frank is more than miffed about Senate Republicans blocking the confirmation of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Board.
In a Friday Op-Ed the Massachusetts Democrat accused Republicans of “blatantly distorting the Constitution” because they have vowed to block any CFPB director nominee from being confirmed, regardless of the nominee’s merits.
“We’re going to see an extraordinarily qualified administrator of an important consumer protection agency be trashed by the Senate Republican minority because their primary goal is to ensure that financial institutions are not troubled by what they may see as an excessive concern for consumer fairness,” Frank wrote in the Washington Post op-ed.
“It is the legislative equivalent to an arsonist having set a fire and objecting to a building’s inhabitants using the fire exit,” he added.
The CFPB was created in response to the sub-prime mortgage crisis as a way to prevent unsound lending practices and avert another financial crisis. Frank was one of the authors of Dodd-Frank financial reform bill which created the CFPB.
Before the president named his nominee to lead the CFPB, 44 Senate Republicans sent a letter to Obama saying they will not confirm any nominee until the board’s structure is revamped.
Republicans have been staunchly opposed to the board and to many of the Dodd-Frank provisions. In the letter, they specified that they want to scrap the board’s director position altogether and instead diffuse power through a panel of directors. They also want any CFPB regulations to be approved by bank regulators before taking effect.
But the president has said he will veto any changes to Dodd-Frank or restructuring of the CFPB.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who signed the letter, told ABC’s Jonathan Karl in July that Senate Republicans are “not going to budge and we shouldn’t.”
“We fought it last year. We’re going to continue to fight it,” Shelby said.
Frank wrote that the Republicans were waging a “war on financial regulation” and that Cordray’s confirmation was “collateral damage.”
“Senate Republicans are not entitled to use the confirmation power as a bludgeon to get their way when they cannot do so through the normal legislative process,” Frank wrote.