Obama on Thursday named Cordray to continue in the role he's held since the president used a recess appointment about a year ago to bypass congressional opposition and install him. That appointment expires at the end of this year.
Senate Republicans had opposed Cordray, as well as the concept of the consumer bureau, saying it had too much power with too little input from Congress. The bureau was created as part of the 2010 overhaul of the nation's financial regulations, to defend consumer rights with banks, mortgage companies, the credit-card industry, payday lenders and others.
Obama noted that Cordray needs Senate approval to keep his job.
"Financial institutions have plenty of lobbyists looking out for their interests. The American people need Richard to keep standing up for them," Obama said Thursday. "And there's absolutely no excuse for the Senate to wait any longer to confirm him."
Cordray thanked the president for his confidence.
"We understand that our mission is to stand on the side of consumers — our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters — and see that they're treated fairly," he said.
The standoff with Senate Republicans that led to Cordray's entry onto the national stage was atypical for the intelligent, soft-spoken repeat "Jeopardy!" champion.
Cordray earned a law degree from the University of Chicago and a master's in economics from the University of Oxford. He interned for then-U.S. Sen. John Glenn, the astronaut, native Ohioan and Democrat and clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee. That built the beginnings of a resume that would make him acceptable to either party.