Republicans have made killing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a primary goal in their efforts to undo everything President Obama and Democrats managed to accomplish in the first two years of his term. To that end, Senate Republicans have vowed to filibuster any candidate for the CFPB unless the agency is gutted and made essentially powerless.
In the wake of that threat, Rep. Barney Frank, co-author of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill that became law last year, says it's likely President Obama will make a recess appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Frank, speaking to reporters, said the announcement by the Republicans has freed President Barack Obama to ignore them and name a CFPB director during a Senate recess, which would avoid the difficult confirmation process. "I assume they will now make a recess appointment," he said.
A panel in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives last week approved a bill that would weaken the CFPB. Like much of the GOP's anti-Dodd-Frank agenda, the measure was expected to stall in the Democratic-controlled Senate, with Obama's veto pen looming in the background.
Warren has made tremendous inroads, particularly with community banks. Here's Roger Beverage, president of the Oklahoma Bankers Association, who was exceedingly skeptical of the idea of the bureau, and of Warren, admitting he "had this vision that she was akin to the Antichrist.".
Today, Beverage considers himself a Warren convert. He openly praises Warren—who was appointed by the White House to get the bureau up and running but has not been nominated to head it—saying she is "far and away" the most qualified person to become the bureau's permanent director. "Ms. Warren has demonstrated that she is willing to work as hard as possible for the benefit of consumers, consumers' families, and community banks," Beverage says. "She would be an outstanding director, and I have encouraged both of our US senators to look past political rhetoric and look at what the woman has done."
It's not just Beverage.
This week, Camden Fine, president and CEO of the influential Independent Community Bankers Association, told a gathering of 1,000 bankers that the odds Obama would nominate Warren were "better than even," later remarking to American Banker that "you would have to look favorably on a [Warren] nomination because clearly she understands our model." Frank Keating, the head of the American Bankers Association, told a reporter that the ABA would support Warren if she were confirmed as CFPB director by the Senate. And Robert Palmer, who heads the Community Bankers Association of Ohio, captured the mood of small banks when he told Bloomberg Businessweek that if Warren "leaves, and the direction changes, we're not going to be very receptive."
All of which suggests that even though Republicans and the Chamber of Commerce would shriek bloody murder should Obama recess appoint Warren, it wouldn't be a controversial move in the entire financial community. Given the popularity in the general public of a strong CFPB and of Warren, and the general desire of the base to see Obama fight on the important stuff, a recess appointment of Warren would be a smart move.