Press Releases

Conyers: Senate Republican Obstruction Jeopardizes Workers and Consumers

Washington, DC, February 15, 2012

Today the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “Executive Overreach:  The President’s Unprecedented ‘Recess’ Appointments”.  The hearing’s purpose is to examine President Obama’s recent recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and 3 members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  President Obama resorted to recess appointments in the face of a concerted effort by a minority of Senators to block his nominations, not on the basis of the nominees’ qualifications, but to prevent the proper functioning of the government agencies whose purpose they do not support.

“The only thing unprecedented in this whole affair are the actions of the current Senate Minority,” said Conyers. “As Don Ritchie, the official historian of the U.S. Senate put it, ‘We haven’t found any precedent for making an agency powerless by not confirming anyone to run it.’  The current Senate Minority has made it clear that they do not support the purpose of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,  an independent watchdog working on behalf of American consumers to curb unfair, deceptive, and abusive financial practices.  In fact, in a letter they wrote to President Obama, they said they do ‘not support the consideration of any nominee, regardless of party affiliation, to be the CFPB director.’  Nor do they support the work of the National Labor Relations Board, which is a fair and public venue for working out disputes between labor and management, and exists to help working Americans to form unions and to bargain collectively for fair wages and safe working conditions.

“They don’t agree with the law and they don’t have the votes to change the law.  Instead, they have tried to block implementation and execution of the law. 

“The functions of the CFPB and the NLRB—enforcing a set of basic protections for American consumers, and maintaining a level playing field for American workers—are vital to our economy and to the security of the American middle class.   More importantly, these two functions are the obligations of the federal government as a matter of law.  The CFPB has been on the books for a year and a half.  The NLRB has existed since 1934.  By blocking these appointees, conservatives are attempting an end-run around federal statute.

“Neither agency can operate as the law intends without formally appointed leadership, and the Senate Minority knows it.  The American people deserve to have these agencies up and running at full capacity.  And they deserve to have qualified public servants taking the lead on enforcing consumer protections and upholding the rights of working Americans.”