A high stakes game is playing out mostly behind the scenes in Washington D.C.
The outcome of which will have lasting implications for how many businesses in America can operate.
One of the more controversial portions of the financial reform bill, passed in 2009, established a powerful new agency called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
From layaway plans to credit accounts, the CFPB was given broad jurisdiction over any almost any business involved with financial services. But unlike other government regulatory agencies, the CFPB was designed to put enormous power in the hands of one person — its director.Â The CFPB isÂ not required Â to receive complaints or even show cause to initiate investigations or pass regulations and the agency director is empowered to unilaterally write, pass and enforce those regulations.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is waging a campaign to ensure the structure of the newly created regulatory agency is amended. Shelby isÂ blocking the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to the position of Director until the president agrees with some of the structural changes Shelby and his colleagues are suggesting.
Rather than vest all the power in a single director, Republicans are seeking a five-member bipartisan commission to perform the duties. And Republicans are also seeking the inclusion of provisions for more congressional oversight of the Bureau.
Thus far, the Obama Administration has refused to compromise and their allies on the Left are gearing up for a fight.
Elizabeth Warren, the architect of the CFPB, and current candidate for U.S. Senate has initiated a petition drive charging that opponents of the current CFPB structure are in the pockets of â€œbig banks.â€Â Groups likeÂ People for the American Way are weighing in as well.
Still, at this point, Shelby seems to have the upper hand.Â Democrats have scheduled a confirmation hearing for Cordray in the Senate Banking Committee for Thursday, October 6th. However, even if the Banking Committee approves Cordray, Senate rules require a 60-vote margin to pass a contested nomination on the floor. And Shelby is not alone in his fight. 43 other Senators have signed a letter pledging to oppose Cordrayâ€™s nomination until the changes Shelby is seeking are included.
Of course, as liberal groups have weighed in on behalf of Cordray, conservative bloggers are supporting Shelby.Â RedState.com, a popular website among the Tea Party, wrote, â€œThink young Ralph Nader and you have a good picture of Cordray. The economy cannot afford to allow this CFPB to go forward unreformed.Â â€¦Conservatives in the Senate must remain steadfast in their fight to reign in the power of an agency that can single-handedly destroy thousands of jobs.â€
Both sides continue to make their moves, but at this point, it appears that unless President Obama comes to the table or Senate Republicans cave to pressure, the fate of this agency will remain in limbo and Cordray will have to sit by the wayside until the controversy is worked out.