Wall Street critic to help set up consumer agency

Image: Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren testifies before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 21.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP file
/ Source: NBC News and news services

The White House will name Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren to a special advisory role in setting up the new Consumer Protection Agency called for by the financial regulatory overhaul, a source familiar with the White House's plans told NBC News on Wednesday.

The announcement will come this week, the source said.

In her new role, Warren will report to both the White House and the Treasury Department. However, the job will not require Senate confirmation.

The 61-year-old Harvard University professor had been considered the leading candidate to head the bureau itself, but her lack of support in the financial community could have set the stage for contentious Senate hearings that may have ultimately derailed her confirmation.

The independent consumer bureau was created under the financial regulatory bill Obama signed into law earlier this year. It will have vast powers to enforce regulations covering mortgages, credit cards and other financial products, and be financed by the Federal Reserve.

Warren has served as head of the Congressional Oversight Panel, charged with monitoring Treasury's handling of the $700 billion bank rescue fund known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program. She has at times clashed with Treasury over her committee's findings and conclusions about the use of TARP money.

As of Sept. 10, however, Warren has removed herself from the panel's work, a signal that the new Treasury post was a possibility.

It was unclear whether Obama also intends to nominate a permanent director for the job this week.

Others mentioned as contenders to lead the agency are Michael Barr, an assistant treasury secretary who was a key architect of the administration's financial regulatory plans, and Eugene Kimmelman, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's antitrust division.