The White House has recently announced that it will appoint Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, despite the block of his nomination by Republican senators earlier in December.
The CFPB, which has been without leadership since its establishment under the Dodd-Frank Act last summer, will now be able to create new regulations for financial institutions.
However, the appointment was made while the Senate was in recess, although a group of senators did briefly meet for a pro forma session that would have hopefully blocked any presidential appointments.
As a result, some senators are claiming that the move was a direct violation of constitutional law.
Meanwhile, Whire House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer recently stated that the pro forma session was a gimmick where no actual business was conducted.
"But gimmicks do not override the president's constitutional authority to make appointments to keep the government running," said Pfeiffer. "Mr. Cordray is the right man for the job and we're pleased he's finally in place to continue his important work."
Additionally, Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, who is currently the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, praised the move.
"Mr. Cordray is eminently qualified for the job, as even my Senate Republican colleagues have acknowledged," Johnson said. "It's disappointing that Senate Republicans denied him an up-or-down vote, especially when it's clear he had the support of a majority of the Senate."
However, some critics argue that Cordray's appointment stands in sharp contrast to the president's power to make recess appointments when the Senate is on recess for 10 days or more. Not following this precedent could put Cordray legal standing in the position in jeopardy since the move potentially compromised Congress' role as a check on excessive power plays by the president.
The appointment of a director for the CFPB has been a major fault line between political parties during recent months. Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren previously withdrew her name for consideration after meeting stiff resistance form the Republican party.
Cordray, who was nominated in July, is a former Ohio attorney general known for his staunch criticism of mortgage foreclosure practices. In December, he was rejected after Senate Democrats failed to collect the 60 votes required to move his nomination forward.
A senior White House official recently stated that President Barack Obama is committed to seeing Cordray as director of the CFPB, and feels that appointing him to the position is well within his legal rights as president.