There is a bizarre power struggle going on with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The former director has resigned and we currently have two acting directors claiming to be the head of the CFPB. One is the former deputy director, Leandra English. The other is a Trump appointee Mike Mulvaney. National Review breaks it down:
What has happened is this: The director of the bureau, Richard Cordray, has resigned. President Donald Trump has named his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, acting director until a permanent director can be confirmed by the Senate. But Cordray’s deputy, Leandra English, has attempted to block that appointment, offering a very novel interpretation of the bureaucratic rule holding that the deputy director operates as acting director in the event the director becomes unavailable. She is arguing that the director’s resignation makes him “unavailable” and hence makes her acting director. But a resignation doesn’t make a director unavailable — it makes him no longer the director.
Only the most gullible liberals are taking English’s oddball legal argument seriously. English is being represented in the matter by private counsel, the bureau’s own general counsel having concluded that the Trump administration has the better case, with “better case” here meaning “plain statutory authority.” The CFPB is established in law as an “executive agency” and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 explicitly empowers the president to name an acting director when there is a vacancy in a position requiring presidential nomination and Senate confirmation. The law is not ambiguous on the point.
A federal judge has now ruled in Mulvaney’s favor. Needless to say, the Democrats are taking English’s side and proclaiming that … something … in the law that created the CFPB enables English to proclaim herself Defender of the Faith. Ultimately, this fight is not necessarily about who heads the CFPB but about who the agency is accountable to. The Republicans want it to be accountable to the President. The Democrats want it to be accountable to no one. This is why the Court of Appeals declared the structure of the CFPB to be unconstitutional. Because federal law does not allow for regulatory agencies to declare themselves as independent fiefdoms.
You can probably tell I’m with Trump on this. Having a federal agency beyond executive control is not only unconstitutional, it’s a terrible idea. This is illustrated perfectly by the terror Democrats have of what it will do under a Trump appointee’s control. We have enough problems with federal agencies acting like feudal lords, issuing regulations and laws without any approval of Congress. Having one that can appoint its own leadership is a bit too far. Trump’s Acting Director should stand (although Trump should submit a nominee to Congress immediately). Presidents have long had the power to appoint acting heads of departments following resignations. There is no reason for the CFPB to be different.
This nonsense and the hand-over-heart tear-streaked cries of support of Democrats for English illustrates all that is wrong with the “Resistance”. Trump is going to appoint a CFPB head at some point. So this Acting Director stuff is just temporary at best. It’s provoking a needless, silly and ultimately futile fight for no reason other than to virtue signal. It’s inside-the-Beltway crap and will, frankly, only strengthen Trump’s hand with the general public. I understand why the Democrats are choosing this fight — they want the CFPB to be independent. But it’s a stupid, pointless and damaging fight to pick. If you want the CFPB to reflect liberal values, then maybe nominate someone for President who is not so personally, ethically and politically challenged that she can’t beat an incontinent hamster.
In other words, elections have consequences. This is one of them.