As the White House continues to aggressively push for the confirmation of Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Senate has set up a procedural vote Thursday to see if his nomination can move forward.
If this week's rhetoric is any indication, Senate Republicans will block Cordray's nomination - not because of his qualifications, but because they are trying to force structural changes to the bureau, changes they've called for the White House to make since the proposal for the bureau.
Republicans have been consistently concerned with the bureau's "lack of transparency or accountability," and will continue to make a lot of hay about the fact that Thursday's cloture vote will come before they feel they have had their concerns adequately addressed by the White House.
Seven months ago 45 Republicans signed a letter to President Obama outlining their concerns.
"He hasn't done a thing to address these concerns, not one thing," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said today. "If he had picked up the phone to talk these issues over with anybody in our conference, I haven't heard about it. If he's put some thought into how he can ensure the perfectly legitimate concerns we raised in that letter are addressed, he hasn't let us in on the game plan."
Republicans say they want the potential director replaced with a board of directors that would oversee the bureau, because they don't believe a single person should have so much power. Additionally they say the bureau should be subject to the congressional appropriations process, because without that, they say, the bureau has a "funding stream" without oversight from the American people.
"If you ask me, the American people should be getting more transparency out of this administration, not less," McConnell said today. "We don't need any more unelected, unaccountable czars in Washington."
Republicans say Obama has "ignored" their concerns and is only now reinvigorating the push for Cordray's nomination because, "it fits some picture he wants to paint about who the good guys and the bad guys are here in Washington."
McConnell called on Obama to listen to GOP concerns and work with the Republicans.
"The fact of the matter is the CFPB needs a drastic overall before any nominee can be confirmed," McConnell said. "This won't come as a surprise to anybody at the White House and our doors remain open."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said thatMcConnell is basically calling for a committee, not a director, for the CFPB and that is never a good idea.
"Always understand, in the private sector or in the government, if somebody suggests a committee, you'll know that something has gone wrong, and that's what he has suggested, in effect: We don't want one person making all the decisions; we want a committee making those decisions," Reid said. "And that's why the Republicans are wrong on that. "
Republicans have consistently said that the hold-up of their support does not have anything to do with Cordray's credentials, but rather the whole creation of the job.
"It's not about the nominee. It's about a process that's running out of control - and frankly by Democrats who really haven't thought this through," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah said.