WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Wednesday that President Obama has “chosen to ignore the constitutional role of the Senate in the nomination process” by using a recess appointment to install Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, declined comment, noting that she voted “present” last month on Cordray’s nomination.

Collins, like nearly all Senate Republicans, had voted to block Cordray’s nomination.

“Quite simply, the president should not be circumventing the Senate, and instead he should work to address the serious concerns that many have with the structural flaws of this agency, the most important of which is the lack of budget accountability,” Collins said in a prepared statement. “Mr. Cordray is clearly a qualified individual with a good reputation. I have repeatedly made clear to the White House that my concern is not with the nominee, but rather with the lack of accountability for how money would be spent by this new agency.”

Snowe has signed on to the GOP demand for a restructured bureau before any director is confirmed. But she declined Wednesday to comment on Obama’s appointment with Congress in recess because she voted “present” rather than “no” on Cordray’s nomination, a Snowe spokesman said.

Snowe voted “present” because of conflict-of-interest concerns, not because she had changed her mind about the Republican stand blocking Cordray.

Snowe’s husband, former Maine Gov. John McKernan, heads a for-profit college company that profits from the loans its students receive.

Snowe said she abstained after hearing a Senate Democrat name student loan companies among the industries the bureau would lack power over if it had no director on the job.

Collins and Snowe were among just three Republican senators who in 2010 helped Democrats pass the financial regulatory overhaul bill that included the new bureau. 

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

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