Consumer bureau chief Richard Cordray testifies on Hill: Has he charmed the GOP?
Facing a hail of scrutiny from congressional Republicans in both the House and Senate over the last week, new consumer watchdog chief Richard Cordray has remained nonconfrontational.
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“Mr. Chairman,” Gowdy said, ending his questioning with a hint of satisfaction, “may the record reflect that Mr. Cordray answered the question.”Skip to next paragraph
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Time and again, Cordray leaned on his experience as treasurer and attorney general in Ohio to adroitly handle questions from his Republican interlocutors. He cited improving a small business loan program by simplifying forms and reducing bureaucracy, and discussed prosecuting businesses that, seeking a cost advantage over their competitors, skimped on their property taxes.
The House Oversight Committee’s ranking Democrat, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, thinks public pressure has made Republicans less eager to criticize Cordray. But Cordray’s demeanor has also been a significant factor.
“They tried to make him look like the boogeyman,” Representative Cummings said. “But they couldn’t do it because he came off as very reasonable and basically presented a win-win case for their constituents and for the banking community.”
Among such “win-win” agreements that surfaced in the House hearing, Cordray assented to North Carolina Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry's request for the CFPB to publish an annual regulation agenda similar to that published by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
After an extensive back-and-forth on the subject, Representative McHenry concluded, “You’ve given a great deal of explanation. We appreciate that. And we certainly appreciate the exchange of ideas.”
Instead of targeting Cordray, Congressional Republicans are turning their fire toward the administration that appointed him. McHenry said the Obama administration’s use of recess appointments “jeopardizes the sanctity of the bureau’s operations and is unfair to Mr. Codray.”
Indeed, Cordray’s future, no matter his efficacy at selling the CFPB to Republicans, is by no means assured.
While that matter will be settled in the courts – and perhaps, in part, at an oversight hearing scheduled for Wednesday – its clear that Cordray has won at least begrudging respect from congressional Republicans.
“Yin and yang,” was how Gowdy compared the pair’s time before the committee.
“They may wind up being exactly the same kind of directors,” Gowdy said. “But he is much better in the committee. He actually answered the questions, he had a conciliatory nature about him, and she has none of the above.”