Republicans at a Senate hearing on Monday welcomed Richard Cordray, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's first director, to the hearing but questioned his ability to retain his appointment.
“I can't imagine how anybody could maintain, under the circumstances, that your appointment and your service is valid,” Senator Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska) told Cordray, Cleveland.com reports. “And I can't imagine…how the actions you're taking will be upheld.”
President Obama, in a controversial move, appointed Cordray to the CFPB using the executive power of recess appointments to overcome Republican opposition in the Senate.
Republicans contend that the appointment is unconstitutional because the Senate was not actually in recess.
“I suspect that the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the constitutionality of the president's action,” Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said, according to Cleveland.com.
Cordray maintained that he would continue to uphold his responsibilities with the CFPB.
Not only do Republicans challenge Cordray's appointment, they also challenge his scope of authority with the agency.
“[Cordray] will have unfettered power over the operation of the bureau,” Shelby said, Cleveland.com reports. “If he so chooses, he does not have to answer to anyone. That is not a choice any bureaucrat should have.”
The Office of Legal Counsel for the United States Department of Justice issued a memorandum early last month defending the president's actions, asserting that the Senate's pro forma sessions do not qualify as a functioning legislative body.