U.S. President Barack Obama is naming Richard Cordray to be the country's chief consumer watchdog through a recess appointment, despite stubborn GOP opposition.
Republican lawmakers have put up a fight to block Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, from leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because of disagreements over the agency's structure and funding.
That's inexcusable Obama said Tuesday after the GOP's presidential caucuses in Iowa. And I refuse to take 'No' for an answer. I've said before that I will continue to look for every opportunity to work with Congress to move this country forward. But when Congress refuses to act in a way that hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them.
Obama is able to surpass GOP approval by appointing Cordray while the U.S. Senate is in recess, The Associated Press reported. Politico's Byron Tau reports the nuclear option is unusual but completely legal and will likely be upheld.
Even so, the appointment will not happen without a fight. White House officials told Bloomberg News they recognize that congressional Republicans will likely sue the Obama administration of the appointment, bringing the battle to court in an election year.
Obama nominated Cordray to be the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's first director in July, about a year after the Dodd-Frank financial reform law called for an agency to keep an eye on mortgage companies, banks, debt collectors and other financial companies.
In nominating Cordray, Obama passed over Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard University professor who organized the bureau and is now running for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts.