At issue here is accountability. Warren’s new agency was created without debate by having it tucked into the mammoth finance reform bill. The House now wants to get to the bottom of the agency’s aims and purpose, hence the hearing. But Warren, basically saying she has better things to do than answer questions from Congress, and claiming the existence of an agreement to get her out of the hearing in an hour, bolts. The Democrats, predictably, come to her defense — even though it’s evident that the committee held the hearing on Tuesday to accommodate Warren’s schedule in the first place. What meeting was more important than answering questions about her agency? Warren doesn’t say.
Philip Klein wrote the fracas up shortly after it occurred Tuesday.
Elizabeth Warren, President Obama’s controversial choice to head the new consumer financial regulatory agency, skipped out of a House Oversight hearing before answering questions from two members of the committee, claiming that she had reached an agreement allowing her to leave at that time. But Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-NC, chair of the subcommittee holding the hearing, said no such agreement existed.
“You’re making this up, Ms. Warren,” McHenry fired back when Warren claimed she only agreed to come under the condition she could leave at 2:15 p.m.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-MD, came to Warren’s defense, saying, “You just accused the lady of lying.”
The hearing before the TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs subcommittee was expected to be contentious. The organized Left and a growing number of House and Senate Democrats are urging Obama to make a recess appointment of the Harvard Law School professor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a bureaucracy created by last year’s financial regulatory law. The new CFPB would be given wide-ranging powers to regulate consumer financial products, much as the Federal Reserve Board regulates the banking system.
Obama has already circumvented Congress by making Warren an adviser at the Treasury Department, where she has been serving as the de facto head of CFPB. Republicans have threatened dire consequences if Obama goes through with the plan to recess appoint her.