Rather than naming Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, President Obama plans to name her to a new White House and Treasury advisory post, helping to set up the CFPB, Jake Tapper reports.
Obama chose not to nominate Warren to head the CFPB — her idea in the first place — due to the risks of the Senate confirmation process. A single Republican Senator could have held her nomination up for months. Worse, she might not have been confirmed, leaving the consumer agency without a head after weeks of waiting. From the ABC News story:
The president [last week called] Warren “a dear friend of mine. She’s somebody I’ve known since I was in law school. And I have been in conversations with her. She is a tremendous advocate for this idea. It’s only been a couple of months, and this is a big task standing up this entire agency, so I’ll have an announcement soon about how we’re going to move forward.”
Naming Warren as an assistant or counselor to both the president and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner would allow the president to bypass a Senate confirmation process that could prove lengthy and contentious.
“I’m concerned about all Senate confirmations these days” including if he were to “nominate somebody for dog catcher,” the president said Friday when asked if he was concerned about Warren’s ability to be confirmed. “I’ve got people who have been waiting for six months to get confirmed who nobody has an official objection to and who were voted out of committee unanimously, and I can’t get a vote on them.”
This announcement might prove disappointing to progressives who advocated for Warren. The Harvard Law professor, currently the head of the Congressional Oversight Panel over the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is considered a pioneer in the field of consumer financial protection. And a broad range of Washington politicos, as well as academics, consumer advocates and policymakers, wanted her as the head of CFPB.
Most importantly: I worry this says something very troubling about Washington. The confirmation process is broken, with the Senate routinely holding up even noncontroversial appointments and therefore depriving the government of important policymakers. Thus, Obama chose to bypass the confirmation process. It is not good that the process is not working. And it is not good that the White House is looking to avoid a Congressional check on executive power because that process is not working.
**Update: **The Huffington Post has more, and reports that Warren will be able to start working on creating the CFPB immediately as well as that Obama might appoint her as its head sometime in the future.
The White House has tapped Elizabeth Warren as a special adviser to help set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ABC News is reporting. The move allows her to act as an interim head of the CFPB and will enable her to begin setting up the agency immediately and prevent the GOP from filibustering her nomination. Warren could serve until Obama nominates a permanent director — a nomination he’s not required to make for some time. Obama could also nominate her as the permanent director in the near future, a prospect that has been discussed among top aides, according to a person familiar with the White House deliberations. Warren will also be named as a special adviser directly to Obama, ABC reported.
**Update: **Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is the first Senator out to praise Warren, but to argue she should have a permanent position.
There isn’t a candidate more fit to get the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency up and running than Elizabeth Warren. She has been a tireless advocate for financial fairness for working families and was the driving force behind the creation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
While this is good news for American families, it is my hope that President Obama will nominate Warren to a permanent position to head up the CFPB. She is more than deserving of the job and the Senate should have the opportunity to confirm one of the nation’s strongest consumer advocates.
The CFPB has been tasked by Congress with reining in the abuses by payday loan firms, credit card companies and predatory mortgage lenders that have stripped families of their hard-earned wealth and were a key cause of the recent financial crisis and recession. Clearly, the new bureau has a big job to do, and Elizabeth Warren is the right person to do it. She will put the interests of ordinary Americans first and ensure that our nation’s financial products are safe for working families and small businesses.