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December 7, 2011

Gansler, other AGs push for Cordray confirmation

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler joined colleagues from three states at a White House news conference Wednesday to urge Senate confirmation of the Obama administration’s pick for a new consumer watchdog.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, included in last year’s sweeping and controversial Dodd-Frank Wall Street overhaul, has been operating for months without a director. The administration’s nominee, Rich Cordray, could face a Senate vote on Thursday.

Cordray, a Democrat, served as Ohio’s attorney general until early this year.

Senate Republicans say they are less concerned with Cordray as they are with new agency itself. Critics say the bureau should not be run by an individual but rather a board, like the Securities and Exchange Commission. GOP lawmakers also want greater oversight, including in how the new agency is funded.

In a news conference, Gansler speculated that blocking the agency’s work by holding up its director is the kind of political gamesmanship that has led to low congressional approval ratings.

“This is the type of thing that breeds cynicism in the general public,” he said.

Attorneys general sharing the dais with Gansler: Mississippi’s Jim Hood, North Carolina’s Roy Cooper and Utah’s Mark Shurtleff. Gansler, Hood and Cooper are Democrats. Shurtleff is a Republican.

The conference is part of a broader push by the White House to pressure the Senate to confirm Cordray. Senate leaders are anticipating a vote Thursday to end debate on his confirmation, requiring 60 votes to advance. Republicans appear to have the votes to block it.        

Asked if he had lobbied Republican members of the Senate – particularly Sen. Orrin Hatch, a fellow Utahn – Shurtleff said that he had but acknowledged he had yet to change anyone’s mind in his own party.

“I don’t want to wag my finger” at Congress, Shurtleff said. “The law is in place. We need to go forward."

The consumer agency would have oversight of banks, mortgage lenders and other financial firms and is intended to avoid a repeat of the mortgage meltdown that led to the current economic downturn. 

Posted by John Fritze at 3:11 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Washington

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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