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Senate approves Cordray to head consumer bureau

Richard Cordray
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Richard Cordray

The Senate has voted to confirm Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as senators approved the first of a batch of President Barack Obama's nominations freed for votes by a bipartisan agreement.

The 66-34 vote Tuesday came hours after Senate leaders worked out a deal freeing up seven stalled appointments for the consumer bureau and other agencies for simple majority votes by the chamber. In exchange, Democrats agreed to abandon for now an effort to change Senate rules to weaken the minority party's ability to block nominations, and Obama agreed to submit two different nominees for two labor posts.

Obama first nominated Cordray tor the consumer job in 2011. But Republicans blocked a vote, demanding that Obama first agree to change the agency's structure and financing.

The president then named Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, to the job in January 2012 with a recess appointment, which does not require Senate approval. That appointment was to expire in January.

Tuesday morning, the Senate voted 71-29 to end GOP delaying tactics that had prevented a vote on Cordray's confirmation.

(Read more: Senate 'nuclear' brinkmanship heads toward showdown)

The consumer bureau was created by the 2010 law that overhauled federal financial regulatory powers following the Great Recession.

Presiding over the Senate during the Cordray vote and announcing the result with a large smile was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Before her election to the Senate last November, Warren was a longtime consumer advocate who had proposed creating the consumer protection bureau. Obama put her in charge of organizing the agency once it was created, but she never held the title of director.

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