WASHINGTON - The Democratic-run Senate Banking Committee has approved President Barack Obama's choice to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but solid opposition by Republicans signals that the nomination will face problems in the full Senate.
By a 12-10 party-line vote Thursday, the committee backed Obama's selection of 52-year-old Richard Cordray, the former Ohio attorney general, to direct the agency.
The new bureau, a cornerstone of last year's law overhauling Wall Street regulations, is supposed to protect consumers who borrow money or use other financial transactions.
Republicans say the agency has too much unfettered power, and 44 GOP senators have promised to block any nominee to head the bureau unless changes are made, such as giving Congress control of its budget. It takes 41 Senate votes to derail a nomination.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) released this statement:
"Today's Banking Committee vote on Richard Cordray is an important step forward for American consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau needs a director, and Mr. Cordray has proven he is qualified for the job. He should be confirmed by the full Senate as soon as possible.
"Unfortunately Senate Republicans are blocking his confirmation, and in doing so they are blocking vital new protections for consumers, and putting community banks and credit unions at a disadvantage to their less-regulated competitors."