Senate GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The few Republicans who voted against Bencivengo’s nomination made it clear that they wanted to send Obama a message about the Cordray appointment, which they consider unconstitutional on technical grounds. Sen. Mike Lee, one of the dissenters, admitted his nay vote had nothing to do with Bencivengo’s qualifications. “Instead, I do so in defense of the U.S. Constitution. ... I find myself duty-bound to oppose this nomination,” he said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

But Lee’s argument didn’t hold much water with the rest of the Senate GOP, a reality that he openly bemoaned. “I’m saddened that some of my colleagues in the Senate are not more jealous of this body’s rightful constitutional, institutional prerogatives,” the Utah senator said.

Obama, in the meantime, has taken his own steps to promote a detente with Senate Republicans by nominating GOP-friendly candidates to lead the FDIC. And Republicans are pursuing their fight against Cordray’s CFPB on the legislative front instead.