WASHINGTON — Elizabeth Warren, who conceived of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will oversee its establishment as an assistant to President Obama, an official briefed on the decision said Wednesday evening.
The decision, which Mr. Obama is to announce this week, would allow Ms. Warren, a Harvard law professor, to effectively run the new agency without having to go through a potentially contentious confirmation battle in the Senate. The creation of the bureau is a centerpiece of the Wall Street financial overhaul that Mr. Obama signed in July.
Ms. Warren will be named an assistant to the president, a designation that is held by senior White House staff members, including Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff. She will also be a special adviser to the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, and report jointly to Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner. The financial regulation law delegated to the Treasury Department the powers of the bureau until a permanent director was appointed and confirmed by the Senate to a five-year term.
The decision does not preclude the possibility that Ms. Warren could eventually be named director, and at the least, she would play a pivotal role in deciding whom to appoint to the job, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the formal announcement. Several organizations, including ABC, reported the news of Ms. Warren’s impending appointment on Wednesday.
Ms. Warren, 61, an authority on bankruptcy law, has developed a following among liberals for her writings and advocacy on behalf of working-class and middle-class families. She has described their financial strains in two books, one of them written with her daughter.
But she has drawn fire from financial institutions for her persistent attacks on abusive, deceptive and unfair lending practices; some banking executives believe she has been overly broad in criticizing those practices.
Labor unions and consumer advocacy groups called Ms. Warren particularly suited for the job she helped to create, and have lobbied the White House for months to make the appointment official. Some called on Mr. Obama to formally nominate Ms. Warren to lead the bureau even if it led to a confirmation battle, arguing that Democrats should embrace such a battle as a means of drawing attention to the bureau’s significance.
However, the White House saw drawbacks to that approach, according to the official. If Ms. Warren’s nomination were in limbo for months, she would be generally precluded from serving fully as the public face of the bureau, or even testifying before Congress.
“The stakes are too high to delay the standing up of this agency,” the official said.
The bureau will consolidate employees and responsibilities from a host of other regulatory bodies, including the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and even the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is expected to have hundreds of employees and a budget of up to $500 million.
The bureau will nominally be part of the Fed, which is obligated to finance its budget, but the central bank may not influence its personnel or rules.
The bureau will have the authority to write and enforce new standards for mortgages, credit cards, payday loans and a wide array of other financial products, and the White House said it believed it was imperative that Ms. Warren promptly begin to shape that process.
A consequence of the arrangement is that Ms. Warren will be working closely with Mr. Geithner, with whom she has occasionally clashed.
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