Last month I mentioned that the refusal of Senate Republicans to allow a vote on Richard Cordray's nomination to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau amounted to modern "nullification." As a reminder:
- The CFPB is the post-financial scandal regulatory agency whose inspiration is often credited to Elizabeth Warren;
- Obama shied from naming the "controversial" Warren to run it, which in turn has freed her to challenge Scott Brown this fall for the Senate seat once held by Teddy Kennedy in Massachusetts;
- Republicans have made clear that they have nothing against Cordray, the former attorney general of Ohio, himself as a nominee. They just don't think the agency should be allowed to function, and by preventing a vote on his nomination they can essentially nullify the law that created it. That is because the law's provisions don't come fully into effect until a permanent CFPB director is in place.
Having hesitated through much of last year to call out Senate Republicans on their historically unprecedented reliance on the filibuster, or the nullification strategy being applied at the CPFB and also the National Labor Relations Board (and in a different way, at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), President Obama has now used the main tool available to him. He has given Cordray a recess appointment to his CFPB role.