The Senate voted 71-29 on Tuesday to end a two-year blockade that prevented the confirmation of Richard Cordray as the director of the CFPB.
Cordray has headed the CFPB since last January, but his nomination to the position has been blocked by Republicans who voiced concerns about the agency’s transparency and requested changes to the agency and its funding structure.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that, unless Republicans allowed votes on a handful of presidential nominees, he would change Senate rules so nominees could be approved with only 51 votes instead of the current 60 votes required, Mother Jones reports.
“This is a win for the American people, and Majority Leader Reid should be commended for taking a principled stand in support of consumer protection,” Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) said. “Rich Cordray is finally getting the up-or-down vote he deserves. Rich has proven to be effective leader and I have no doubt he will now be confirmed. I want to thank Rich for his patience and dedication over the past two years. Despite uncertain prospects for his confirmation, which had nothing to do with his qualifications, Rich was undeterred and has done a remarkable job getting the CFPB up and running.”
The Senate then voted 66-34 to confirm Cordray, according to NPR.
Cordray was nominated by President Obama in 2011 and installed as director last January under the power of recess appointments. A federal appeals court ruled, however, that the appointment was unconstitutional.
Republicans said they would drop their opposition to allow the votes on five nominees. In exchange, the Obama administration agreed to toss out two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board—Richard Griffin and Sharon Block—and to replace them with Kent Yoshiho Hirozawa and Nancy Jean Schiffer, NPR reports.
“I’m pleased that the Senate took action today to move forward on the nominees who have waited far too long for a vote,” Obama said, according to NPR. “Over the last two years, I’ve nominated leaders to fill important positions required to do the work of the American people, only to have those positions remain unfilled – not because the nominees were somehow unqualified, but for purely political reasons. I want to thank the Senators from both parties – including Leader Reid, Leader McConnell and Senator McCain – who have worked together to find a path forward and give these nominees the votes they deserve.”