President Obama made a public pitch for the Senate to confirm Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and accused Republicans of wanting to roll back key financial reforms that could protect the country from a future crisis.

“He would be America’s chief consumer watchdog when it comes to financial products,” Obama said at a White House news conference Thursday, touting Cordray’s background as former attorney general of Ohio.

“And Republicans have threatened not to confirm him not because of anything he’s done, but because they want to roll back the whole notion of having a consumer watchdog,” he said.

Obama’s comments came shortly after the Senate Banking Committee voted 12 to 10 to approve Cordray’s nomination to be the agency’s first director. All GOP members voted against the nomination as part of a vow by nearly every Senate Republican to block any nominee to head the agency unless its powers are watered down.

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