It took over 700 days, a recess appointment, and a nuclear-option showdown, but a prominent Republican senator yesterday took stock of his party’s efforts to reject Richard Cordray and nullify the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He reached an interesting conclusion.
“Cordray was being filibustered because we don’t like the law” that created the consumer agency, said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “That’s not a reason to deny someone their appointment. We were wrong.”
That’s not a phrase we often hear from politicians, especially congressional Republicans, and it’s a welcome concession. Indeed, since I made the same argument on Monday, I’m delighted by Graham’s candor.
Perhaps, if Senate Republicans had come to this realization just a little sooner, Elizabeth Warren would be at the CFPB right now and Scott Brown would still be making Wall Street happy as a senator.
Regardless, the question many Senate Democrats are asking right now is whether yesterday’s breakthrough – which overwhelmingly tilted in their favor – can help lay the foundation for broader progress, at least in the upper chamber. Greg Sargent reported this morning:
Democrats plan to seize on yesterday’s events to exacerbate what they hope is a developing schism between the GOP leadership/hard right alliance and a bloc of GOP Senators who (Dems are betting) are genuinely fed up with that alliance’s continued flouting of basic governing norms. They hope to renew the push for a return to budget negotiations, with an eye towards replacing the sequester.”
Greg added that Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chair of the Banking Committee and an influential member of the Democratic leadership, is set to deliver a pointed message on the floor this afternoon: “There is a group of Republicans – led by Senator McCain – who are very interested in ending the gridlock and working together to solve problems…. I am really hopeful that the bipartisanship we’ve seen this week will carry over into the budget debate, and that rather than listening to the Tea Party, Republican leaders will listen to the Republican members who prefer common-sense bipartisanship over chaos and brinkmanship.”
There are obviously a whole lot of hurdles between the painful status quo and competent governing, and even if there’s a Senate GOP contingent prepared to be responsible the odds in the House are far worse, but between low expectations and the events of recent years, “we were wrong” is a step in the right direction.