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Obama sidesteps Congress to appoint financial watchdog chief

(Xinhua)

08:15, January 05, 2012

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday circumvented his rival Republican Senators to appoint former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a financial sector watchdog, when U.S. Congress was in recess.

The administration fought to pass and signed into law the strongest consumer protection in history in 2010. The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, or the Dodd-Frank Act, created the CFPB, an independent agency with the primary mission of acting as a watchdog for American consumers.

Obama announced his intent to nominate Cordray as the CFPB director in July 2011, but the nomination had been blocked by GOP Senators.

"Everyone agrees that he's more than qualified," and Cordray had won bipartisan support, Obama said during an address at Shaker Heights High School in Cleveland, Ohio, a key election swing state.

The bold move taken by the White House was aimed at protecting the hard-won financial reform and setting up a showdown with Republican lawmakers as Obama had geared up his reelection bid.

Republican lawmakers held that the authorities should replace the single director structure of the CFPB with a board of directors that would oversee the agency, subject the bureau to the congressional appropriations process, and allow other financial regulators to provide a check on CFPB rules before giving the green light to the CFPB director nomination.

The U.S. Constitution requires that most senior federal officers must be confirmed by the Senate before assuming office, but U.S. president can act alone by making a recess appointment while the Senate is in recess. To remain in effect a recess appointment must be approved by the Senate by the end of the next session of Congress.

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