Speed Reads

Playing politics

Dueling regulatory agency appointments foment executive branch conflict

The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Cordray, resigned Friday and named Leandra English, the agency's chief of staff, as his successor. But the White House had other ideas, and soon announced budget director Mick Mulvaney will serve as acting director of the CFPB until a permanent successor is confirmed by the Senate.

It is unclear who is in the right here, as the CFPB is just six years old and has never undergone a directorial transition before. The Dodd-Frank Act, which created the regulatory agency, stipulates that the director is succeeded by the deputy director, the position to which Cordray promoted English on his way out. However, it is possible that the Federal Vacancies Reform Act overrides the Dodd-Frank law in giving the administration appointment authority.

Cordray is a Democrat, and the CFPB has long been in Republicans' deregulatory crosshairs, with Mulvaney among its vocal critics. "I look forward to working with the expert personnel within the agency to identify how the bureau can transition to be more effective in its mission, while becoming more accountable to the taxpayer," Mulvaney said after his appointment.