CFPB Director Richard Cordray faced tough questioning from lawmakers during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, amid debate and controversy surrounding his appointment to the position.
While legislators have not questioned Cordray’s credentials to lead the agency, many congressional Republicans have vowed to block his appointment until key changes are made to the agency, including the replacement of the director with a bipartisan, five-member board and the placement of the agency’s budget under the congressional appropriations process, CBS MoneyWatch reports.
Critics have maintained that Cordray has far-reaching and over-expansive power with little congressional supervision, but Cordray said during the hearing that the CFPB is subject to congressional oversight and audits by the Government Accountability Office, adding that it must report its activities to lawmakers.
Some consumer advocates have said that allowing Congress to supervise and intervene in the CFPB’s decisions would undermine the agency’s independence, pointing to other regulators, such as the FDIC and OCC, which are led by a single director instead of a commission, according to CBS MoneyWatch.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and other Republican senators questioned Cordray about the CFPB’s budget and questioned whether the budget is being used efficiently. Cordray said that the CFPB had to use part of its funding to establish the agency, which did not begin its official operation until 2011.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is widely considered to be the creator of the CFPB, questioned the idea of subjecting the agency’s budget to the political pressures of the congressional appropriations process.
“I want to know why every banking regulator since the Civil War has been funded outside the appropriations process, but unlike with this consumer agency no one in the United States Senate has held up confirmation of their directors, demanding that…those agencies be redesigned,” Warren said, CBS MoneyWatch reports.