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Former Ohio AG to lead consumer agency

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama moved Monday to get a new consumer protection bureau up and running, introducing a former Ohio attorney general as director, in an apparent acknowledgment that the woman who masterminded the agency couldn’t win Senate confirmation.

In a Rose Garden ceremony under sunny skies, Obama announced he has chosen Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. At the same time, Obama vowed to resist any efforts to block its work.

“We are going to stand up this bureau and ensure it is doing the right thing for middle class families all across the country,” the president said.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a central feature of a law Congress passed last year that overhauled the rules that govern the financial sector. The agency will serve as a government watchdog over mortgages, credit cards and other forms of lending when it officially begins its work on July 21.

Obama and Cordray were joined by Elizabeth Warren, a special assistant to the president who had been charged with getting the agency started. Warren is widely considered the architect of the bureau, and consumer groups wanted her to be named as its leader. But she was strongly opposed by Republicans and would have faced a difficult path to confirmation.

The president applauded Warren’s work as an advocate for the American public.

“She’s become perhaps the leading voice in our country on behalf of consumers,” he said. “She’s done it while facing some very tough opposition.”