Republicans Firm in Blocking Consumer Agency Head

Republicans on Tuesday remained determined to block President Barack Obama's nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Republicans are demanding the administration agree to change the structure of the agency before allowing the Senate to move forward with its consideration of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.

"It is regrettable that the President and the majority have chosen to ignore our request rather than work with us to improve the bureau's accountability," Senator Richard Shelby, the leading Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, said in remarks prepared for a hearing Tuesday on Cordray's nomination.

"It may be good politics for them, but it is certainly bad policy for the American people," he said.

Republicans have opposed the agency as a regulatory overreach since it was created as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law.

Democrats have balked at Republican demands, charging the minority party with using the nomination process as blackmail to weaken the agency.

"This political gamesmanship is preventing Americans from receiving the consumer protections they deserve," Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson said in prepared remarks.

The bureau, which opened its doors on July 21, will oversee products like credit cards and home loans.

In order to allow a nominees to be confirmed, Republicans want three changes made to the bureau: Have it run by a board rather than a director; subject its budget to annual congressional approval; and give other regulators more authority over bureau regulations.

Cordray's best chance of being confirmed by the Senate is if the administration and Republicans do something they have been unable to do in recent months: compromise.

Whether Cordray is the right man for the job has barely entered the discussion in the larger showdown between Republicans and Democrats over whether the bureau will stop lending abuses or will be the regulatory straw that breaks the lending industry's back.

In Ohio, Cordray was a vocal critic of Wall Street and lending practices leading up to the 2007-2009 financial crisis, but Republicans have not made him or his record the focus of their opposition to his nomination as director. (Reporting by Dave Clarke; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Tim Dobbyn)