President-elect Trump’s inauguration is nearly upon on, and already there are two GOP senators demanding that Donald Trump fire the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Cordray. In a letter recently sent to Trump’s transition team, the two GOP senators, Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), made a case for Cordray’s removal, claiming that something needs to be done to reign in control of an agency that is “too powerful and lacks sufficient oversight.” Senator Sasse said, “it’s time to fire King Richard. Underneath the CFPB’s Orwellian acronym is an attack on the American idea that the people who write [our] laws are accountable to the American people.” He added “President-elect Trump has the authority to remove Mr. Cordray and that’s exactly what the American people deserve.”
The letter, that has been viewed by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, argued that a recent federal court ruling found that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional, and because of that ruling, Trump would have the authority to fire Cordray upon officially becoming president.
However, Cordray has no intention of going down without a fight. In fact, he plans on serving out the remainder of his term, which doesn’t expire until July 2018. His position as the director of the agency grants him a lot of power and influence on the future direction of the agency, perhaps a big reason why Sasse and Lee want him promptly removed. Sasse and Lee, along with other Republicans, have been trying to remove Cordray for years in order to transform the partisan agency into a more bipartisan one, and because Democrats keep pushing back, Republicans aren’t afraid to just have Trump take care of things by removing him.
But who exactly is Cordray? And what is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Why do Republicans want Cordray fired? For starters, Cordray is the first confirmed director of the CFPB, an agency that was created under President Obama’s 2010 Wall Street reform bill. The purpose of the agency was to oversee mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and other consumer financial products.
The problem Republicans have with the agency and Cordray is they thing the CFPB was “given far too much power and not enough accountability.” Democrats on the other side of the aisle have flown to the agency’s defense, claiming that it’s a useful agency that focuses on recovering money for “customers from financial institutions.” In fact, so far the agency has been able to help recover about $11 billion. However, Republicans argue that the CFPB “raises costs generally and deprives customers of choices.” Led by Sasse and Lee, they’re proposing transforming the agency into a “five-member commission, rather than having a single director, and to subject its funding to congressional appropriations.”
It remains to be seen how this situation will play out, but Sasse and Lee don’t intend to back down from demanding that Trump removes Cordray. In fact, the senators believe that it’s Trump’s constitutional duty to take action, saying “the president retains constitutional authority to remove the director until a valid court order says otherwise. Like all government officials, the president is sworn to uphold the Constitution and is not duty-bound to respect unconstitutional statutes.” With the inauguration right around the corner, we won’t have to wait long to see how Trump responds.