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Elizabeth Warren to be appointed to ... something

Or so Jake Tapper reports:

President Obama will announce this week that Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law School professor who first proposed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will be named to a special position reporting to both him and to the Treasury Department and tasked with heading the effort to get the new federal agency standing, a knowledgeable Democrat told ABC News.[...]

Naming Warren as an assistant or counselor to both the president and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner would allow the president to bypass a Senate confirmation process that could prove lengthy and contentious.

“I’m concerned about all Senate confirmations these days” including if he were to “nominate somebody for dog catcher,” the president said Friday when asked if he was concerned about Warren’s ability to be confirmed. “I’ve got people who have been waiting for six months to get confirmed who nobody has an official objection to and who were voted out of committee unanimously, and I can’t get a vote on them.”

Since nominees facing the confirmation process also enter a period of public silence, avoiding the confirmation process would also allow Warren to publicly discuss the agency and its benefits, which the president is eager for her to do.

Still unclear: Does this prevent her from eventually heading the agency? Or is this a precursor to doing that? What are her actual powers? How long does she serve in this position for?

By Ezra Klein  |  September 15, 2010; 5:28 PM ET
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What is this? A “special position” reporting to Obama and Geithner to “get the agency standing?” What does that mean in Obama-speak? Not the director, no that might lead a contentious confirmation hearing and no one in this administration has the stones for that. Not even the interim director, Dodd might object. Just more Obama 11 dimensional chess, I suppose.

Brother, can you spare a spine?

Posted by: desperado1 | September 15, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

She will be appointed to a new position to head a new organization, to be called "the Warren Court"

Posted by: gagkk | September 15, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe anyone is criticizing this. Obama is finally starting to pull the levers of government (the way Rove/Bush) did to get his agenda. A sellout/compromise would have been to nominate a Dodd-proof/Senate-proof candidate.

Posted by: greyhair | September 15, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Well Ezra, this gives President flexibility. If she ruffles too many feathers while setting the foundations, President can drop her. On the other hand, if things are going good and she 'sales' the agency well during the next month to get HuffingtonPost 'base' to Dems; he will go for confirmation. Idea is by then 'silly season' is done....

I think this a smart move and quite a pragmatic way out from the current Senate confirmation impasse.

Posted by: umesh409 | September 15, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Greyhair is 100% right. This is a good move. It is basically the interim appointment without actually calling it that. Warren will be able toe set up the Bureau and set the starting regulatory rules. Great move. The Rethugs want to obstruct every appointment--so be it. We can play that game, too. And this does not preclude him appointing her officially in the future.

Posted by: michiganmaine | September 15, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Right, she'll report to the President and Geithner but will still be funded by the Federal Reserve, which means a Republican Congress can't use Appropriations bills to de-fund her. You'd think Dodd would be a little more on the ball about laws WITH HIS NAME ON IT, but I digress.

Apparently the Secretary of Treasury has up to 18 months run the bureau out of Tsy, after which it will be run by a presidential appointee out of the Fed. Soooo, Warren could serve as the interim director (a term not in the bill, the task is simply handed to the Secretary, who can always delegate) till the beginning of 2012. Which means if Warren's given a recess appointment at that time, she can serve until the end of 2013.

Elizabeth Warren is now on track to run a government agency with broad rule making power and independent funding for over 3 years without ever needing to face Senate confirmation. Well played!

Posted by: beowulf_ | September 15, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

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