The White House is considering appointing Elizabeth Warren as interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, bypassing a likely Senate confirmation battle, according to sources.
Under the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform law signed July 21, the Treasury Department has the power to appoint a temporary head of the new agency until a permanent one is nominated and confirmed.
By naming Warren interim head, the White House would sidestep — for now — a likely fight over her nomination. Obama can still choose to formally nominate Warren sometime next year, or select another candidate if she becomes too polarizing.
Republicans would sadly shake their head, and lament her lack of bona fides.
"She certainly could be put in there, but I do think if you do that it looks like you are trying to fill an appointment and trying to bypass the Senate," said Mark Calabria, a former Senate GOP aide and now director of financial regulations studies at the Cato Institute. "I think there is an expectation that any interim person does not have the legitimacy to set broad policy changes."
No one the White House could ever nominate would have "legitimacy" from the CATO/conservative camp anyway, so we can ignore their laments. Fact is, the first head of the agency will get to write the rules for the agency and establish its culture. There will be no entrenched bureaucratic forces to fight, because the agency is being set up from scratch. And if Elizabeth Warren is setting things up, no one who matters will care whether she was confirmed by a obstructionist and dysfunctional Senate or not.
So yeah, Obama, please make it happen.
All Warren needs is one year to set this thing up. After that, we'll need her in Massachusetts to take out the accidental senator, Scott Brown.
Update: And the White House is now denying this story to Politico. Seems that Chris Dodd, carrying water for Wall Street, doesn't want the appointment provision in the law that bears his name to be used.