Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) sharply criticized Senate Republicans Friday for blocking President Barack Obama's nominees to head government agencies.
"It is the legislative equivalent to an arsonist having set a fire and objecting to a building’s inhabitants using the fire exit," Frank writes in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
Frank presents the case of Richard Cordray, a former state attorney general who was nominated by Obama in July to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Senate Republicans vowed to block Cordray's nomination -- or that of any nominee -- without changes designed to weaken the new agency.
Cordray is just one in a long line of Obama nominees that Republicans have blocked in order to protect financial institutions, Frank writes.
In June, Peter Diamond withdrew his nomination for Federal Reserve governor after failing to gain support from Senate Republicans. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, was just one GOP leader who criticized the nomination, saying Diamond -- who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2010 -- lacked monetary policy experience.
Shelby also had a hand in ousting Joseph Smith, who was nominated by Obama to be the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
While Frank notes that the Republicans' ability to object to the independence of the consumer agency is "entirely legitimate," he does disagree with what he sees as a misuse of power.
"Senate Republicans are not entitled to use the confirmation power as a bludgeon to get their way when they cannot do so through the normal legislative process," Frank writes.
As for Cordray, Frank expresses disappointment in the 44 Senate Republicans who have vowed they won't consider him to head the CFPB.
"We’re going to see an extraordinarily qualified administrator of an important consumer protection agency be trashed by the Senate Republican minority because their primary goal is to ensure that financial institutions are not troubled by what they may see as an excessive concern for consumer fairness," Frank writes.