WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson joined 52 other Democrats in the Senate informing President Obama today that a majority of the body supports his nomination of Richard Cordray to a full five-year term as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and opposes the structural changes to the agency demanded by Senate Republicans.

The Democrats made their intentions known in a letter to the President, even as 43 Republican senators—enough to filibuster a Senate vote—continue to oppose the CFPB nomination until their demands to change the structure of the agency are met.

The Democrats’ frustrations have become palpable. “Rich Cordray has the support of a majority of Senators, and it is past time for an up or down vote,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) said during a news conference today announcing the Democrats latest push for the CFPB nomination.  “It has been four years since the financial crisis and almost three years since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act.  The financial industry needs certainty, and families need to know there is a strong and independent watchdog on their side in Washington.”

But the Republicans’ opposition has apparently stalemated the CFPB nomination, just as Republicans have also promised to filibuster the President’s nomination of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. With 43 senators, the Republicans have more than the 40 votes necessary to block, or filibuster any presidential nomination that requires confirmation by the Senate, provided the Republicans all vote as a block.

The Democrats, who have a clear majority of the Senate with 55 seats and two independents they can count on to vote their way, took aim at the Republicans’ opposition to the CFPB. “As supporters of strong and effective consumer protection, we oppose efforts to weaken the CFPB through structural changes, including as the price for Senate approval of Director Cordray’s nomination,” the Democrats said in their letter to the President. “Never before has a President’s nominee to lead an agency been blocked, because a minority of Senators do not support the existence of the agency.” 

“We support a strong Director to lead the CFPB, to protect consumers and to provide market certainty.  A bipartisan majority of Americans support the agency as currently constituted, and so do we.  We pledge to work with you to strengthen the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers, and we renew our commitment to do all we can to secure Richard Cordray’s confirmation without delay.”

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