Bloomberg News

Republicans Set to Block Obama Nominee for U.S. Consumer Bureau

December 12, 2011

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Republicans say they have the votes to stop consideration of a nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as the Senate moves toward a procedural vote.

Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee told reporters today that 45 Republicans will block a move by the Democratic leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, to vote on the nomination of Richard Cordray, the former attorney general of Ohio.

Reid responded “I hope so,” when asked whether all 51 Democrats in the Senate will support moving forward with nomination. “I don’t have any reason to say they won’t.”

Reid took a step today toward a procedural vote on the nomination of Cordray, who is currently serving as enforcement chief at the bureau, which was created in 2010 by the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul.

The move, setting up a vote to limit debate on the nomination, could lead to a procedural or “cloture” vote on Dec. 8, according to Reid’s website.

To pass, the motion would need 60 votes from the 100-member Senate; A group of 41 senators can usually prevent the chamber from proceeding with a vote.

President Barack Obama is traveling this week to make the case for Cordray, and is including a visit to Kansas, a state where senators have vowed to oppose any nominee without significant changes to the bureau’s structure.

Ad Campaign

Labor and consumer groups including the AFL-CIO, Consumers Union and the NAACP are running radio ads and generating calls to Republican senators, according to an e-mailed statement from Americans for Financial Reform, an umbrella group.

Obama is planning to give television interviews on Dec. 8 to stations in states where Republican senators are opposing Cordray, including Maine, Indiana and Utah. Today, Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Orrin Hatch of Utah stood next to Shelby and reiterated their opposition to the nomination.

In May, 44 Republican senators signed a letter saying they would oppose any nominee to run the agency without changes to the bureau’s structure. Senator Dean Heller, a Republican from Nevada who joined the Senate after the letter went out, added his name to it in November, his spokesman, Stewart Bybee, said in an e-mail.

The only two Republican senators who didn’t sign the letter were Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Brown has since said he would support Cordray, who was a key aide to Elizabeth Warren, who helped set up the bureau and is now a Democratic challenger for Brown’s Senate seat.

--Editors: Maura Reynolds, Gregory Mott

To contact the reporter on this story: Carter Dougherty in Washington at cdougherty6@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lawrence Roberts at lroberts13@bloomberg.net.


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