Obama picks former state AG over Elizabeth Warren for consumer post

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

After GOP congressional leaders pushed back aggressively against Elizabeth Warren--the White House's initial choice to head up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)--President Obama has named a less controversial nominee to the post. The White House announced Sunday that Obama's pick is former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.

Warren, a Harvard Law school professor, is credited with laying the foundation for the CFPB, which seeks to protect consumers from predatory lending practices from banks, mortgage lenders and credit card companies. So Warren, who had also consulted with the Obama administration on the  agency's launch, was an obvious and favorite White House pick to lead the bureau following its creation.

But Republicans in Congress, the business community and many others viewed Warren as highly controversial, given her history of taking on Wall Street. She had, for example, formerly chaired the panel that oversaw the TARP financial bailout.

Senate Republicans had vowed to block her nomination, and House Republicans put her through the ringer at a hearing this past May.

These and other incidents indicated a Warren nomination would be tough slog for a White House already locked into a number of key showdowns with Hill Republicans.

Cordray, Ohio's former treasurer, was elected state attorney general in 2008 and served through January 2011. Warren chose him to head up enforcement for the CFPB and touted his appointment in a public statement Sunday.

But Warren also took a shots at congressional Republicans in her statement, saying: "Partisanship may be the most important thing in Washington, but in the rest of the country, people expect their public servants to work together to learn from past regulatory failures and to put our energy into solving problems, not scoring political points. I hope that Republicans in the Senate take notice and stop their fight to preserve a regulatory system that failed us."

Much disagreement still remains over the bureau's mission and policy portfolio. Forty-four Senate Republicans made a series of demands this May about the CFPB, including proposals to replace the director with a panel, force the bureau to use the congressional appropriations process for spending and a safety-and-soundness check for prudential regulators.

The bureau is set to be up and running July 21.