Richard Cordray has long been a favorite target of Republican lawmakers and business leaders. As the director of the CFPB, Cordray is thought by many to be too powerful and not accountable enough to Congress or the president. Last year, a federal appeals court said as much – it found the CFPB’s structure unconstitutional because Cordray couldn’t be removed at the pleasure of the president. The agency, however, is currently appealing that decision.
In a conversation with CNBC’s John Harwood, Cordray said that the regulator’s independence from political influence “is very much worth fighting for.”
“I think it’s consistent with what most Americans want,” Cordray said. “What do people do when they’re suddenly being harassed by a debt collector, called at all hours of the day and night? Can’t get them off their back, can’t get them to realize that maybe this debt isn’t one that they even owed in the first place. to have somebody who will stand on their side, who will try to do something about it – I think people want that.”
Cordray also scoffed at the common criticism that the CFPB is not accountable to the rest of the government.
“We are accountable,” he told CNBC. “I have to be accountable to Congress; I have to testify in front of them four times a year. I’m accountable to the courts; they oversee what we do. And if we get something wrong, we fix it, just like everybody else does.”
But Republican lawmakers disagree. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has called the CFPB “the most powerful and least accountable Washington Bureaucracy in American history.” Last month, he urged President Donald Trump to fire Cordray as soon as possible. And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced a bill to the Senate that would dismantle the agency.
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The Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau responded to his critics during an interview Friday.