Here's the text of the letter to Obama, now being circulated in the House for signatures:
May 18, 2011
Dear Mr. President,
We appreciate your leadership last year in supporting the strong financial reforms in the Dodd-Frank bill that responded to the financial meltdown on Wall Street that led to the worst recession since the Depression.
A key element of that effort was the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the goals of making prices clear, risks clear, making financial markets work for families and particularly protecting service members and their families from abusive financial practices. Since you appointed Professor Warren to "stand up" the bureau, she has laid the foundation as a strong advocate for consumers--something that seems to strike fear among those who are opposed to reform.
Regretfully, Republicans in the Senate have now made it clear that they oppose reform. They have vowed that they will not allow consideration of any nominee to head the CFPB until the bureau is weakened. They would rather hold your appointment hostage and obstruct the process than make sure consumers have a strong advocate on their side.
Since Republican Senators have said that no one is acceptable unless the law is weakened, we would urge you to nominate Professor Warren as the CFPB's first Director anyway. If Republicans in the Senate indeed refuse to consider her, we request that you use your constitutional authority to make her a recess appointment. We can think of no better person to be the first Director of this incredibly important consumer financial protection regulator.
The letter was written by Carolyn Maloney of New York, Ralph Ellison of Minnesota and Brad Miller of North Carolina. The White House, which has been less than enthusiastic about Warren, has declined comment.
Warren herself is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday. According to The Hill blog, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, said Thursday he had not seen the draft of the Obama letter, but said he had no problem with the president using a recess appointment to name Warren as director.
“Not only no problem, but what’s the alternative?” he said.
Obama is in a squeeze play. He has had a year to make up his mind. His time is up.