On Tuesday the Senate finally voted to put an end to the two-year-long fight that prevented Richard Cordray from being confirmed as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal agency created in 2010 to protect consumers against unfair practices. Although Senate Republicans were opposed to Cordray (and the CFPB itself), they reached a deal with Democrats on Tuesday in order to avoid a threatened change to the filibuster rules.
After this deal was reached, the Senate then approved Cordray as director of the CFPB in a 66-34 vote. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a strong advocate for Cordray and the CFPB, was jubilant on Tuesday night’s All In with Chris Hayes:
“We know this agency is here to stay. No more clouds over what it legally is entitled to do. No more attacks that say maybe we’re going to be able to undercut it in this way or weaken it in that way. We’ve got a full fledged watchdog. The one we fought for, and [Cordray] is going to be there to fight for us. I love it!”
Warren discussed two major accomplishments of the agency: “Already it has returned nearly half a billion to consumers that credit cards cheated them out of,” and “It has already set up a complaint hotline so that if you think you got cheated on your checking account by your bank or you think somebody else has cheated you on a mortgage, you can file a complaint and there’s a process by which you may be able to get your money back.”
Why has the watchdog been targeted by Republicans? ”Let’s face it: this is about money! And this is about lobbyists,” Senator Warren said. “The bank lobbyists have been in the halls of the United States senate for years now fighting against the consumer agency. They wanted that money to stay with their clients.”
Most recently Senator Warren teamed up with Senator John McCain to bring forth a 21st century version of the Glass-Steagall Act, a 1933 law put in place to separate big investment banking and commercial banking. ”[The proposal] says effectively, the hedge funds, Wall Street traders, they can get out there and they can take the risks they want to take but they don’t get to use the money in your grandma’s checking account to do that,” said Warren. “We’re just going to put a wall back in place.”