Statements and Speeches
Dec 08 2011
WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, Dec. 7, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) spoke on the U.S. Senate floor in support of the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Sen. Carper’s speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:
"During the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis on Wall Street, one question which Congress repeatedly asked itself was – What can we do to prevent future harm from reaching Main Street?
"This theme continued as we considered, and ultimately passed in 2010, comprehensive financial regulatory reform legislation which I supported, now known as the Dodd-Frank law.
"While not all of us were able to agree on all elements of the Dodd-Frank law and while some of my colleagues did not support it in the end - most of us could agree that we needed to do more to help protect American families and businesses from bad actors.
"As a result, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created.
"For the first time in history, one agency would be charged with overseeing consumer protection for Main Street Americans within the financial industry.
"In July of this year, Richard Cordray was nominated to be Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"Mr. Cordray is the former Attorney General of Ohio where he helped protect consumers, investors, retirees and business owners to ensure Americans on Main Street got a fair deal.
"At the time of his nomination, he was leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement efforts.
"Mr. Cordray is someone who has been intimately involved with getting the new Bureau up and running and who brings key expertise to the table.
"So, as my colleagues and I debate his nomination and ask ourselves is he qualified to do this job– I think the answer is Yes.
"My colleagues on the Senate Banking Committee agreed, and 37 Attorneys General from across the country—Republican and Democrat—agreed.
"However, today’s debate has not been about whether Mr. Cordray is qualified for the job.
"Instead, the debate is focused on the structure of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"In May, 44 of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle sent a letter to the President saying they would block any nominee until structural changes were made to the agency.
"This was before the President had even nominated Mr. Cordray.
"My colleagues want to see changes made - such as replacing the Director with a board structure and subjecting the Bureau to the appropriations process.
"My colleagues pointed out that these structural changes would model the Bureau after already existing agencies, while some of my other colleagues have also made the point that there are already existing agencies not subject to the appropriations process, like the FDIC and the Fed.
"What we have here today is a disagreement, one where my colleagues on both sides have legitimate points.
"The Consumer Bureau was created in Dodd-Frank through a series of compromises, and rarely is any compromise perfect.
"At the end of the day, however, the point of the Consumer Bureau is to put consumers first.
"I’ll be the first to admit that there’s no such thing as a perfect law and I’m sure that my colleagues here would agree.
"If there are aspects of Dodd-Frank that can be tweaked and improved we should do that.
"But at the end of the day, we must put financial protection of consumers above our disagreements and personal preferences.
"The longer we continue to constrain the Bureau by denying it a leader and only discussing the structural changes that some members would like to see, the greater the disservice is to consumers across America.
"The Bureau’s authority was created so it would not just be limited to banks, as these institutions are already regulated.
"The Bureau’s authority is supposed to extend to non-banks as well, such as payday lenders and debt collectors.
"Prior to Dodd-Frank, nonbank entities were subject to little if any federal supervision, yet their reach and use across our country is widespread.
"As a result many unscrupulous actors were able to exploit loopholes and harm American consumers.
"However, without a Director in place, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau does not have the authority to supervise these very entitites.
"This drastically undermines the very spirit in which the Bureau was created.
"It is not just the consumers who are harmed, but our small community institutions as well.
"These community institutions want to see a level playing field, where they can compete and where everyone plays by the rules.
"Consumers and businesses need certainty and predictability.
"Without certainty and predictability, we continue to hinder our economic recovery.
"We cannot afford to drag this disagreement out in perpetuity.
"We must empower this Bureau to look out for Main Street as we envisioned with its creation.
"We may have to look at the idea of a commission based structure, and I would love to sit down with my colleagues from the other side of the aisle and debate this issue.
"But right now, we have the ability to move forward in standing by our words and the spirit of the law, by looking out for every American with a mortgage, with a credit card, and those looking to send their kids to college.
"I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting Mr. Cordray’s nomination.
"It is the right thing to do and it is our opportunity to show the American consumers that we are putting them first, ahead of partisan politics, by governing as we were meant to do."