This evening, the U.S. Senate voted 66 to 34 to confirm Richard Cordray as CFPB Director, for a five year term. As is well known, Mr. Corday had been serving in that position as a recess appointee and his recess appointment was set to expire at the end of this year. Moreover, his recess appointment has been the subject of a litigation challenge, and the issue of the validity of recess appointments such as his may have been resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court in the next term. The Senate vote on Mr. Cordray’s nomination came after several days of Senate debate over the Senate’s confirmation process and filibuster rules that resulted in a path forward on up or down votes on several presidential nominations. It ended a two-year stalemate between Republicans and Democrats over the Mr. Cordray’s nomination, based on a fundamental disagreement regarding the structure and oversight of the CFPB. For example, Republican members of both the Senate and the House have called for the CFPB’s director-led structure to be replaced by a commission, and for the CFPB’s budget to be subject to the annual congressional appropriations process.
There may be movement on one potential change to oversight of the CFPB. Concurrent with the agreement to vote on Mr. Cordray’s nomination, Senator Portman (R-OH) announced a bill that would establish an office of inspector general for the CFPB. Currently the Bureau shares an inspector general with the Federal Reserve Board. Also, following the confirmation vote, the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee immediately dropped his objection to Mr. Cordray testifying before that committee and stated that the committee will call him to testify on the CFPB’s annual report as soon as practicable.
The confirmation of Mr. Cordray, and the expected confirmation of new presidential nominees to the National Labor Relations Board, may impact the Supreme Court’s pending review of presidential recess appointment power, a case we have written about on several other occasions, including most recently when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
Other nominations of interest remain pending. For example, the President has nominated Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) to serve as FHFA Director. The Senate Banking Committee was set to vote on that nomination this morning, but postponed the vote until Thursday.