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Donald Trump's choice for agency head leads to clashes

The move was seen as an effort to delay Trump from appointing his own director, whose confirmation could take months

TARA SIEGEL BERNARD | NYT 

Mick Mulvaney
Mick Mulvaney

President Trump on Friday named his budget director as the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, moving to take control of the agency hours after its departing leader had taken steps to install his own choice for acting chief. By the end of the night, an agency born of the financial meltdown — and one Republicans have tried to kill from the start — had dueling directors, and there was little sense of who actually would be in charge Monday morning. The bureaucratic standoff began Friday afternoon when Richard Cordray, the Obama-appointed leader of the bureau, abruptly announced he would leave the job at the close of business, a week earlier than anticipated. He followed up with a letter naming his chief of staff, Leandra English, as the agency’s deputy director. The announcement came with a twist. Under the law, he said, that appointment would make the new deputy director the agency’s acting director.

The move was seen as an effort to delay Trump from appointing his own director, whose confirmation could take months. The White House retaliated, saying that the budget director, Mick Mulvaney, who once characterized the consumer protection bureau as a “sad, sick joke,” would be running the agency. He would also keep his current job as head of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney said he would assume the additional role until a permanent successor was found. “I believe Americans deserve a CFPB that seeks to protect them while ensuring free and fair markets for all consumers,” he said in a statement. “Financial services are the engine of American democratic capitalism, and we need to let it work.” In a letter to the consumer protection agency’s staff, Cordray named English as deputy director. Under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which established the regulatory agency, the deputy director is to serve as acting director in the absence of a permanent leader, Cordray said. The conflicting appointments were a fitting development for an agency under constant attack from Republican leaders, and it leaves supporters wondering about the agency’s future with Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of both houses of Congress. The bureau was proposed in 2007 by Elizabeth Warren, then a Harvard law professor, but she was passed over to lead the agency after Obama administration officials became concerned that she would not be able to overcome resistance from Republicans during the confirmation process. Instead, President Barack Obama chose Cordray, a former attorney general of Ohio whom Warren had picked to be the agency’s enforcement director. But for two years, Republicans prevented the confirmation of a director to lead the agency. © 2017 The New York Times News Service

First Published: Sat, November 25 2017. 23:53 IST
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