Cordray in fight for job at consumer bureau

He will testify today before Senate panel

Consumer watchdog Richard Cordray will lay out a lengthy list of his agency’s accomplishments before a Senate panel Tuesday — part of his effort to hang onto his job as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau despite Republican opposition to the agency.

In written testimony that Cordray has prepared for the Senate Banking Committee, Cordray will argue that in one year alone, the agency has adopted new rules to protect homeowners from mortgage fraud or from being abused by their mortgage servicers, adopted rules to help struggling homeowners pay back mortgages and avoid foreclosure and worked to protect consumers who have been deceived by credit card companies. He’ll also discuss the more than 130,000 complaints that the agency has fielded from across the country.

“Consumers have contacted us for help resolving specific problems they have experienced with consumer financial products and services, ranging from improper charges on credit cards to mortgage payments that were wrongly applied,” he wrote in prepared testimony, adding that the consumer response operation has helped return millions of dollars to consumers.

He’ll also talk about how the agency is working to make student loans less complicated, how it is helping service members and veterans make better decisions about how to use their benefits and how it is working to help older Americans get good, clear information about their retirement finances.

“As the economy recovers, we want people to know they now have a new agency standing on their side, looking out for their interests, to help restore their confidence in the consumer financial marketplace,” he wrote.

Cordray will be introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Cordray, the former Ohio Attorney General, was re-nominated in January as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency created by the Dodd-Frank law of 2010, after serving at the agency for a year. Obama used a recess appointment to appoint him last year after Republicans blocked his nomination.

So far, there’s little sign that Republicans have dropped their opposition. Earlier this year, 43 Republicans sent a letter to Obama vowing to block Cordray’s nomination unless the Obama administration modifies the bureau’s powers. Republicans specifically would like for the bureau to be governed by a five-person board rather than a director, and they would like for Congress to be able to approve the bureau’s annual budget.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, did not sign the GOP letter but instead, in a separate letter to Cordray, urged him “to stake out a reasonable position” on the Senate Republican requests.

“Now is the time to… lend your support to common-sense reforms to make the bureau more effective and accountable to the American people, so that the Senate can find a path forward on your nomination,” he wrote.