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Steve Blackledge,
U.S. PIRG

Senators face important vote on whether or not to protect consumers

For Immediate Release

Seattle —In July, the landmark Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took over as the nation’s first federal financial agency with only one job, protecting consumers. But until it gets a Senate-confirmed director, its powers, especially over payday lenders and other non-banks, are limited.

In July, the President nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, the current enforcement chief of the Bureau, as the CFPB’s first director. He’s already received strong support from Ohio papers and praise from the current Republican Attorney General of Ohio, Mike DeWine, who had defeated him. Yet, the Bureau will not have its full authority to protect consumers in the financial marketplace until a director is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on the nomination September 6 and is expected to send the nomination to the floor soon.

However, in May, 44 U.S. Senators had signed a letter to President Obama opposing any nominee to head the bureau until the bureau’s powers and funding are first weakened.

“Our Senators have a clear choice, protect consumers by voting for Cordray or protect Wall Street,” said Steve Breaux, public interest advocate at the Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG). “What’s even worse about the bank-backed opposition to the nomination is that they’re shooting themselves in the foot because until CFPB gets a director, it has little power over payday lenders and other bank competitors.”

According to a new poll, 77 percent of Americans—Republican, Democratic, and Independent—favor strong, sensible oversight of the financial services industry, including a strong and independent CFPB.

”Senators don’t often have such a stark choice. They can either protect consumers or protect powerful special interests,” concluded Breaux. “For the consumers struggling to make ends meet after Wall Street caused the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the choice is quite clear—confirm Rich Cordray to direct the CFPB.”

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