Issa Grills Cordray on Recess Appointment to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

By Melanie Arter | January 25, 2012 | 11:51 AM EST

Richard Cordray. (AP Photo)

( – Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Tuesday asked Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, how the legal challenge against his recess appointment by President Obama might affect the bureau.

“I’m not asking you to act as though you weren’t appointed. I want you to act as though you were appointed. I think that’s your responsibility. The question is more as we as a committee look at the ramifications of anytime there is uncertainty to an appointment for a period of time what can we see done to reduce the chances that that uncertainty if it were to ultimately culminate in a question of law in this case, and we could have the same argument by the way of the law that the president signed,” Issa said.

“Well, he says the Senate was in recess. You can’t pass a bill in recess. There’s actually, the flipside of that is if your appointment is legal, then the law that the president signed which was passed while in recess may be in doubt. So, I’ll let the Senate and the president worry about the law, but have you looked at that or would you agree here today to at least put some time and energy into asking how many things would sustain your departure should for any reason that occur?” Issa added.

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“I will give it some thought, Congressman, and I understand the tenor of the question as you explained it further. I do think the one thing that we could not do – and I think it’d be dereliction of duty – is for me to say, ‘We’re not going to go forward and do the things the law of the land now tells us to do because I’m gonna somehow act as though I was not appointed.’ I just think that’s not tenable. And as to the rest of it, I’ll give it some thought. If you all have insights, I’d be happy to have you share that,” Cordray said.

“And I’d be glad to share with you off the record, or you know, off this hearing. Candidly, my challenge is – I look and say I want whatever your thousand people by the time the end of the year comes. I want them to make sure that they do not waste their time in something that has to be redone,” Issa said.

“I might note that all of us on the dais are aware that sometimes we have to recuse ourselves, but you know, one of those things is, if we know that a vote will come out exactly the same whether we recuse ourselves or not. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to say, you know, caution says recuse yourself so they can’t question the vote. Well ultimately, the same outcome occurs, and that’s a lot of what I’m asking for that at least you be concerned enough to ask the question of: Can we have belt and suspenders for a period of time while these challenges go on?” the congressman added.