WASHINGTON – House Republican Conference Chairman and Financial Services Committee Vice Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) delivered the following opening statement today before testimony by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director (CPFB) Richard Cordray at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.
“In January of this year President Obama made an alleged recess appointment of our witness, Richard Cordray, to head the newly created CFPB. The problem was the Senate was not in recess at the time. In fact, it was in pro-forma session. The Senate has the constitutional authority to determine the rules of its proceedings, not the president. Under a similar set of circumstances in 2007, when inconveniently for Democrat Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid a Republican was in the White House, he was quoted as saying, ‘The Senate will be coming in for pro-forma sessions…to prevent recess appointments.’
“Now one may not like the policy, but it’s a pretty convincing confirmation that a pro-forma session is not a recess. So it is fairly clear the Senate did not believe that they were in recess on January 4th, and under the Constitution they could not have been in recess because the House did not consent. Therefore there can be no recess appointment. But had there been a recess appointment, this doesn’t solve the president’s problem. Section 1066 of Title 10 of Dodd-Frank clearly states that the director must be “confirmed by the Senate.” A recess appointment is not a Senate confirmation.
“In 2005, then-Senator Barack Obama indicated recess appointees then lose credibility because they cannot make it through the confirmation process. Now, Mr. Cordray, we just met for the first time about 15 minutes ago and although we don’t know each other, those who I know from Ohio say you enjoy a good professional reputation. They respect you. They respect your judgment and your fairness, so this is not personal. But in my humble opinion, I believe you sit before us as either an unconstitutional appointee, an unlawful appointee, and using the president’s characterization, you suffer from a loss of credibility from the outset.
“So for as ever long as you may occupy this office, you have been given an incredibly, incredibly important charge to protect consumers. But you have also been granted unprecedented, unaccountable, unilateral powers to ban and ration consumer credit products, restrict the fundamental economic freedoms of our citizens, and effectively control huge swaths of our economy. So obviously I look forward to hearing your views. I yield back.”