I mentioned this in yesterday’s roundup, but it’s worth repeating. Richard Shelby, the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, wrote a letter signed by 44 of his colleagues, saying that they would filibuster any nominee to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless they are allowed to significantly weaken it. Their list of demands:
Replace the single Director with a board to oversee the Bureau. This would prevent a single person from dominating the Bureau and provide a critical check on the Bureau’s authority.
Subject the Bureau to the Congressional appropriations process. This would provide oversight and accountability to the American people on how public money is spent.
Establish a safety-and-soundness check for the prudential financial regulators, who oversee the safety and soundness of financial institutions. This would help ensure that excessive regulations do not needlessly cause bank failures.
So, no director, a budget Congress can squeeze and the ability to pre-empt anything CFPB does. Just three simple reforms.
This makes the recess appointment of Elizabeth Warren that much more likely. These are the demands for the confirmation of any director; indeed, the demand for confirmation is to eliminate the directorship and create a multi-member board. Since these are all elements that would significantly weaken CFPB’s structure, it’s likely that they will not be agreed to. Indeed, they couldn’t pass the Democratic-held Senate. Which means that the only way to get a director is through a recess appointment. And to the extent there was any strike against Warren, it was confirmability. Now Shelby tells the White House that NOBODY is confirmable. All things being equal, then, the Warren nomination becomes incredibly attractive. Not to mention the fact that there’s a built-in deadline to get a director up and running by July 21 or else CFPB loses the ability to regulate non-bank financial institutions.
I don’t think this was Shelby’s intention, but after the nomination and recess appointment, maybe Warren can send him a box of chocolates or something.
UPDATE: More on Warren winning over bankers from Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll.
UPDATE II: David Arkush of Public Citizen sees this the same way, that Shelby and the Republicans are basically giving up on stopping a Warren nomination and trying to redirect the conversation.