[Congressional Record Volume 157, Number 187 (Wednesday, December 7, 2011)]
[Senate]
[Pages S8404-S8405]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           CORDRAY NOMINATION

  Mr. FRANKEN. Mr. President, I rise today to strongly support Richard 
Cordray, the President's nominee to be Director of the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau.
  Three years ago our economy was tumbling into the deepest recession 
since the Great Depression. In the fall of 2008, the stock market was 
plummeting, unemployment was skyrocketing, and there were daily reports 
of yet another financial institution crumbling. Our economy was in a 
chaotic tailspin. That was only 3 years ago.
  Today we are in a slow and tenuous recovery. Unemployment is still 
way too high. Millions of Americans are out of work and have been for 
some time. Long-term unemployment is staggeringly high. Retirement 
accounts are still reeling. Yet in the Halls of Congress we are 
dominated by discussions of our Nation's debt and deficit. In fact, we 
are doing little else. These discussions are necessary. We need to 
tackle our deficits and our long-term debt. But as we do, we shouldn't 
lose sight of how we got here.
  The lessons we learned in the aftermath of the 2008 crash shouldn't 
be so quickly forgotten. The crash of 2008 was driven in no small part 
by unfair practices in the mortgage industry which led to many 
consumers being trapped in loans they didn't understand and couldn't 
afford. It should come as no surprise that this was as a result of 
increasing deregulation of the banking industry.
  So in response, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and 
Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank, which was passed into law last 
year, sought to rein in abusive practices, protect American consumers, 
and prevent future meltdowns. One of the bill's centerpieces was the 
establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB is 
the first Federal financial regulator devoted solely to looking out for 
the best interests of American consumers and to do so before a crash 
and before any taxpayer-funded bailouts are necessary.
  The CFPB's mission is a commonsense one. The CFPB is tasked with 
ensuring that consumer financial markets are fair and competitive; that 
consumers have clear information about financial products; that 
financial practices are not unfair, deceptive, or abusive; and that 
consumer financial regulations are improved and streamlined. The CFPB 
seeks to empower American consumers to make the best financial 
decisions for their families, and that can only help out our Nation as 
a whole.
  Several months ago, on the 1-year anniversary of the enactment of 
Dodd-Frank, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that 
the CFPB officially opened its doors. It has already hired staff and 
begun some of its work. In fact, a while back I met with Mrs. Holly 
Petraeus, who is heading up the Office for Service Member Affairs at 
CFPB. She wanted to discuss a few problems that disproportionately harm 
members of our armed services.
  We talked about ways to educate servicemembers about the potential 
downfalls of certain types of loans. This is exactly the type of work I 
am so happy that the CFPB has begun. That would be the good news.
  The bad news is the CFPB still does not have a Director. Under Dodd-
Frank, the CFPB cannot fully do its job until a Director is in place. 
It can do some things, but it will be limited until the Senate confirms 
a nominee. President Obama has nominated Richard Cordray. Rich is an 
impressive figure, and he has my full support.
  Rich Cordray has been on the front lines protecting homeowners from

[[Page S8405]]

risky and sometimes illegal practices of mortgage servicers. In 2009 he 
was the first State attorney general to take on a mortgage servicer for 
violating consumer laws.
  Last year, he continued his strong record of standing up for 
homeowners when he represented the people of Ohio against GMAC Mortgage 
for signing thousands and thousands of affidavits allowing foreclosures 
to proceed despite the fact that nobody at the company had any 
knowledge of these cases. So I want Rich Cordray at CFPB to put his 
previous expertise to work.
  During his tenure as attorney general, he also took on the credit 
rating agencies on behalf of Ohio's pensioners. Because of the rating 
agencies' reckless behavior, hard-working Ohioans lost over $450 
million from their pensions. Rich Cordray is exactly the kind of strong 
consumer advocate that CFPB needs.
  Further compounding the bad news is that most of my colleagues on the 
other side of the aisle have vowed to oppose any nominee until the CFPB 
is substantially altered--literally any nominee. They claim that 
changes to the CFPB need to be made before they will even look at a 
nominee. The proposed changes supposedly rectify the unprecedented 
authority--unprecedented authority--granted to the CFPB and impose real 
checks on that authority. In fact, the CFPB is subject to unprecedented 
limitations. It is the only banking regulator with rules that are 
subject to veto power by a group of other regulators, the only banking 
regulator subject to Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
panels, and the only banking regulator with a budgetary cap.

  We already have had this debate. During the consideration of Dodd-
Frank last year, there were attempts to weaken the CFPB, and those 
attempts were defeated. Now the people who lost that debate are taking 
a second crack at consumers and trying to bring down this Bureau. Only 
this time, instead of debating on the Senate floor, they are hijacking 
the advice-and-consent function of the Senate. Is that a precedent that 
we want to set? I do not believe that is what the Founders of this 
great Nation conceived when they gave this function to the Senate.
  I urge my colleagues instead to consider this nominee on his merits. 
Rich Cordray has demonstrated he is looking out for middle-class 
families. He is looking out for homeowners who have been scammed by 
mortgage servicers. He is looking out for pensioners who have lost 
their pensions at the hands of Wall Street recklessness. He has been 
endorsed by former Republican Senator and current Ohio attorney general 
Mike DeWine. He is exactly--exactly--the type of person we need at the 
helm of this critical Bureau, and this Bureau cannot do its job until 
he is confirmed.
  I hope my colleagues will reconsider their position and instead do 
what is right for American consumers. I hope my colleagues will join me 
in supporting Rich Cordray to be the first Director of the Consumer 
Financial Protection Bureau.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Manchin). The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CARPER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Hagan). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.

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