In her going-away letter, Elizabeth Warren, the woman credited with creating the nation’s newest consumer watchdog agency, praised her employees for a successful kickoff—even as a leading member of Congress blamed Warren’s departure on sexism, and the man picked to replace her gears up for a potentially explosive confirmation battle.
Warren sent her letter in an email to all employees of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She praised them for working so hard to create a new agency with “the most aggressive and effective outreach effort anywhere in government,” and meet priorities like “streamlining mortgage disclosure and making credit cards easier to understand.”
Warren also hinted that even though she is leaving Washington, D.C., and her position as the president’s advisor in charge of setting up the agency, for Boston and her former job as a law professor at Harvard, she may stay in the public eye.
Many Democratic leaders have been trying to convince her to challenge Republican Scott Brown for his Senate seat in 2012.
“I leave this agency, but not this fight,” Warren wrote. “The issues we deal with—a middle class that has been squeezed and business models built on tricks and traps—are deeply personal to me, and they always will be.”
Meanwhile Rep. Barney Frank (D – MA), a co-author of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act that created the new bureau, blamed sexism for the departure of both Warren from the CFPB and Sheila Bair as chair of the FDIC.
“Part of it, I have to say, was gender bias,” Frank said from the House floor. “Along with Sheila Bair, recently departed as head of the FDIC, Ms. Warren encountered from some people—maybe unconsciously on their part—the notion that a very strong-willed woman with strong opinions might have a place but not in the financial sector.”
As Warren exits, her replacement, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, gears up for what will likely be a bruising confirmation battle. The Senate Banking Committee will hold its first confirmation hearing on Aug. 4.
Democrats who control the Senate want to confirm Cordray soon.
“With [this] week’s hearing, I will begin the process of moving Mr. Cordray’s nomination forward to confirmation,” Tim Johnson (D – SD) chair of the banking committee, said in a prepared statement.
But Republicans have signaled that they would use their power to block Cordray, or anyone else for that matter, from becoming the director until the Obama administration agrees to change the bureau’s leadership structure, limit its power and restrict its budget.
“I would remind [the president] that Senate Republicans still aren’t interested in approving anyone to the position until the president agrees to make this massive new government bureaucracy more accountable and transparent to the American people,” Mitch McConnell (R – KY), the Senate minority leader, said on the Senate floor in July.
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Image: Nancy Pelosi, via Flickr.com