Elizabeth Warren To Be Appointed to Help Create Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

Move Avoids Contentious Confirmation Battle

ByABC News
September 13, 2010, 12:58 PM

Sept. 15, 2010 -- President Obama will select Elizabeth Warren to join the administration in a special advisory role to help form the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog agency she first proposed back in 2007.

The move, first reported by ABC News' Jake Tapper, gives Warren an important role in creation of the bureau, but avoids, for now, a confirmation fight in the Senate. Her selection will appease a slew of prominent lawmakers, progressives, and labor unions who in recent months have clamored for her nomination to the post.

After all, the new agency -- part of the sweeping Wall Street reform bill that passed Congress earlier this summer -- was Warren's brainchild. In 2007 Warren, the Harvard Law professor and bailout watchdog, proposed the creation of "a new regulatory body to protect consumers who use credit cards, home mortgages, car loans, and a host of other products.

"Clearly it is time for a new model of financial regulation, one focused primarily on consumer safety rather than corporate profitability," Warren wrote in the summer of 2007.

Though Warren led the charge for greater consumer protections, she was far from a shoo-in to oversee the new agency. Some prominent members of the administration and Congress questioned whether Warren -- a straight-shooting, no-holds-barred critic of both the financial industry and the federal government -- might be too controversial to win Senate confirmation if she is eventually chosen by the President to lead it.

Earlier this summer sources told ABC News that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner had "concerns" about Warren, while powerful Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd raised doubts about support for Warren on Capitol Hill.

"Elizabeth, I think, can be a terrific nominee. The question is, 'Is she confirmable?'" Dodd said in an interview on National Public Radio in July. "And I think there's a serious question about it."

In recent weeks, though, Warren met with President Obama on several occasions and it started to appear increasingly likely that she would indeed be given the chance to form the consumer protection bureau.

The president said at a recent White House press conference that Warren was "a tremendous advocate" for standing up for consumer's rights against the perils of a financial industry that ran amok in the build-up to the 2008 meltdown. While Obama avoided directly answering if he was worried about Warren's support on the Hill, he said he was "concerned about all Senate confirmations these days," citing that the Republican minority insists on Democrats getting 60 votes on nearly every issue, even seemingly non-divisive ones.