Cordray braces for Senate hearing on CFPB nomination
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is prepping for its next obstacle: the confirmation process of director nominee Richard Cordray. With Elizabeth Warren scheduled to leave her role as assistant to the president and special adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday, Cordray is set to appear before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday. Obama nominated the former Ohio Attorney General a few days before the CFPB's architect, Elizabeth Warren, announced her intent to leave the agency to return to her job at Harvard Law School. Cordray's first foray before the powerful Senate panel should serve as a bellwether of what's to come for the new regulator. Elizabeth Warren's appearances in front of Congress had a tendency to turn contentious, with lawmakers grilling Warren on everything from how much CFPB staff members are paid to general oversight issues and the agency's role in advising state attorneys general on the $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement. Opponents of the CFPB claim their problem with the agency is not Warren, per se, but the structure of the CFPB in terms of funding and oversight. Senate Republicans vow to block Cordray's nomination until a board of directors is established for the new federal bureau. Cordray created a reputation as a consumer advocate when he served as Ohio Attorney General. In March 2010, HousingWire published an exclusive interview with Cordray, in which he described himself as "highly dissatisfied" with the current state of mortgage servicing. At the time, he had lawsuits pending against Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Bank of America and others. "The CFPB opened its doors as an independent agency on July 21, and it is off to a strong start promoting an equitable and transparent consumer financial marketplace," said Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), chairman of the powerful Senate Banking Committee. "However, until it has a director, the CFPB will not be able to use its full powers to protect consumers and level the playing field for community banks and credit unions." Write to Kerri Panchuk.