POLITICS
07/20/2011 09:05 pm ET | Updated Sep 19, 2011

Dems See Opportunity In GOP Attempt To Curtail Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Surprised Democrats think Republicans are giving them a gift for the first birth Thursday of the new consumer financial watchdog: a chance to remind Americans how much they hate bankers and love the agency that is supposed to keep them in check.

House Republicans will bring to the floor a measure billed as improving transparency and oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but which the White House said Wednesday would "expose American consumers and the nation's economy to the same risks that led to the 2008 financial crisis."

House Democrats are salivating over the day's expected debates because GOP leaders agreed to allow votes on 11 separate amendments -- many of them by Democrats.

And while the Democrats expect to lose the floor fight, there's little to no chance the Senate will pass the measure there. In the meantime, Democrats will cast the GOP as protectors of the people who wrecked the economy, and the enemy of extremely popular efforts to restrain Wall Street.

In fact, one senior aide couldn't believe the House leaders were giving them the chance, suggesting it's happening because members beholden to the Tea Party are determined to have the unpopular fight.

"I think they're not just drinking the Tea, they're smoking it over there," the aide said.

Among the 11 amendments are several that attempt to stop the bill from turning the agency into a less powerful commission and from making it easier for other regulators to overturn CFPB rules.

The architect and creator of the agency, Elizabeth Warren, was passed over to head the new watchdog agency in favor of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, but Warren was given a Biblical sendoff by Democrats in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office Wednesday.

"We had Genesis. Now we're going to have Exodus, but it's going to be followed by Numbers," said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).