Slideshow: The Senate’s Broken Confirmation Process

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray listens while testifying before the Senate Banking Committee in Jan. 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created by the Dodd-Frank legislation to regulate consumer and financial markets and to educate the Americans who use them. Work at the agency was initially stalled because the White House spent months deciding whether to nominate Elizabeth Warren for director. In May 2011, nearly all Republican senators signed on to a letter vowing to block any nominee until the agency was restructured. In July 2011, President Obama nominated Richard Cordray, a Democrat who had previously served as the Attorney General of Ohio. The senators blocked a vote on Cordray, crippling the agency because the law prevented it from enforcing its powers against non-bank financial players like payday lenders and mortgage brokers unless a director was in place.

After six months of inaction, in January 2012, Obama went over the Senate’s head and made Cordray director while Congress was in recess. A few Republican senators had been sitting in the Senate chambers for a few minutes each day through the New Year without doing any legislating in an attempt to block Obama from making recess appointments. The administration responded that this tactic was not sufficient to constitute a “congressional meeting.”

As a recess appointment, Cordray will only be able to serve as director until the end of 2013.

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