Days after Senate Republicans filibustered President Obama’s nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) defended the move, arguing that GOP lawmakers want to see stricter oversight of the newly-established watchdog agency.
“This consumer bureau that they want to pass is under the Federal Reserve; no appropriation oversight; no board. It is something out of the Stalinist era,” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The reason Republicans don’t want to vote for it is we want a board, not one person making all of the regulatory decisions. And there’s no oversight of this person. He gets a check from the Federal Reserve; we want him under the Congress so we can oversee the overseer.”
The Senate on Thursday voted 53 to 45 to end debate on the nomination of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray to head the watchdog agency, seven votes short of the 60 needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. The agency, which was established by last year’s financial regulatory reform law, opened its doors in July but is blocked from exercising many of its powers until a director is put in place.
Democrats and the White House argue that tens of millions of Americans who rely on non-bank financial institutions may be put at risk if the agency is left without a director; they also contend that the CFPB’s funding should be separate from the congressional appropriations process, as is the funding of other banking regulators.
Republicans contend the Obama administration has not made an effort to address their concerns about the agency’s accountability; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Sunday echoed Graham’s concerns, telling “Fox News Sunday” that “this agency answers to no one.”
President Obama has suggested he may seek to install Cordray through a recess appointment when Congress leaves town at the end of the month, a move that would allow Cordray to serve through the end of the next session of Congress in late 2012. Such a move would likely invoke the ire of congressional Republicans, however, and could make for an even more polarized environment on Capitol Hill as the 2012 election nears.