President Barack Obama used a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray as the nation's chief consumer watchdog despite strong Republican opposition on Wednesday.
With a director in place, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be able to start overseeing the type of financial companies often blamed for practices that helped send the economy into a downward spiral.
Obama's end run around the Senate is likely to cause an uproar among Republicans in Congress.
The White House contends the Senate's "pro forma" legislative sessions are a gimmick and therefore Obama has the power to make the short-term appointment. Cordray would serve for at least the next two years.
Obama also used so-called recess appointments on Wednesday to fill three vacant seats on the National Labor Relations Board, sidestepping congressional Republicans who had obstructed his nominations for a second time in the same day.
Obama used his presidential power to install Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin to the NLRB, following his decision to appoint Cordray earlier on Wednesday.
"We can't wait to act to strengthen the economy and restore security for our middle class and those trying to get in it, and that's why I am proud to appoint these fine individuals to get to work for the American people," Obama said in a statement.