Taking a political victory lap, President Obama today publicly celebrated the confirmation of Richard Cordray to serve as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after two years of Republican resistance.
"I first nominated Rich for this position two years ago this week. He was eminently qualified. He had the support of Democrats and Republicans from across the country. A majority of state attorneys general from both parties, Rich's former colleagues, called on him to be confirmed," Obama explained at a White House ceremony, with Cordray by his side.
"For two years Republicans in the Senate refused to give Rich a simple yes-or-no vote, not because they didn't think he was the right person for the job but because they didn't like the law that set up the consumer watchdog in the first place," he said.
Republicans agreed Tuesday to confirm several of the president's nominees as part of a deal to avert changing the political rules governing filibusters, the so-called "nuclear option."
"I am very proud to say that last night Rich Cordray was finally confirmed by the United States Senate to keep serving as America's consumer watchdog and as the director of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," Obama said. "We're very pleased."
President Obama recess-appointed Cordray to direct the agency last year, as his nomination was stalled by Republicans who refused to confirm him, or anyone else, to lead the agency until structural changes were made.
Obama said Cordray's nomination was critical to protecting American families from the "strain of irresponsibility" that resulted in the financial crisis.
"This is not just some abstract theoretical exercise," he said. "Families, many of them hard-pressed, have money in their pockets, maybe in some cases saved a home or were able to send their kids because of the work that Rich and his team is doing right now. And that's money that oftentimes families didn't have the power to recover before. So Americans are better off because of what Rich has done as our consumer watchdog and his outstanding team is doing each and every day."
The president also recognized Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., the architect behind the agency.
"I was fortunate, even when I was running for president, to have some friends like Elizabeth Warren, who had already done a lot of academic work on this and, you know, had a whole series of ideas about how we might start making sure that consumers were treated better and, as a consequence, take some of the risk out of the system," Obama said.
Cordray was sworn in this morning by the vice president in in his West Wing office.