Awkward situation at consumer finance agency

Published on Saturday, 25 November 2017 19:40
Written by BERNARD CONDON

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Who’s the boss? That’s the awkward question after the departing head of a government agency charged with looking after consumer rights appointed a deputy to temporarily fill his spot. The White House then named its own interim leader.

One job, two people - and two very different views on how to do it.

The first pick is expected to continue the aggressive policing of banks and other lenders that have angered Republicans. The second, President Donald Trump’s choice, has called the agency a “joke,” an example of bureaucracy run amok, and is expected to dismantle much of what the agency has done.

So come Monday, who will be leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

Senior Trump administration officials said Saturday that the law was on their side and they expect no trouble when Trump’s pick for temporary director of the CFPB shows up for work. Departing director Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee long criticized by Congressional Republicans as overzealous, had cited a different rule in saying the law was on his side.

In tendering his resignation Friday, Cordray elevated Leandra English, who was the agency’s chief of staff, into the deputy director position. Citing the Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB, he said English, an ally of his, would become acting director upon his departure.

Corday’s move was widely seen an attempt to stop Trump from shaping the agency in the months ahead.

The White House cites the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. Administration officials on Saturday acknowledged that some other laws appear to clash with Vacancies Act, but said that in this case the president’s authority takes precedence.

Who prevails in the legal wrangling is seen as important even though this involves just a temporary posting. Getting a permanent replacement approved by the Senate could take months.

The president’s pick for temporary appointee, Mick Mulvaney, had been widely anticipated. Mulvaney, currently director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been an outspoken critic of the agency and is expected to pull back on many of Cordray’s actions in the six years since he was appointed.

Trump announced he was picking Mulvaney within a few hours of Cordray’s announcement on Friday.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Nation-World on Saturday, 25 November 2017 19:40. Updated: Saturday, 25 November 2017 19:43.