Elizabeth Warren, a key contributor to the new Wall Street bank law that calls for a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, is reportedly close to being named to an interim role setting up the agency, though the White House remains mum on the appointment.
White House spokesman Bill Burton would say on Tuesday only that the White House doesn't have an announcement at this time.
A day earlier, a White House spokeswoman would neither confirm nor deny reports that the Harvard law professor and chief of oversight of the Troubled Assets Relief Program would be given a role that would allow her to bypass what would likely be a tough Senate confirmation battle.
But Warren is practically a shoo-in to get the temporary top job at the agency that was her brainchild.
The banking law that passed with little Republican support gives President Obama the authority to nominate a director to a five-year term. Obama said on Friday that an announcement is coming soon, and Warren has loads of support among Democratic lawmakers.
Harvard's law school dean fueled the speculation by announcing that Warren had dropped her contracts class for the fall semester, The Washington Post reported last week.
"Professor Warren regrets that she will not be able to teach you this fall and we regret the last minute change," law school dean Martha Minow wrote to students on Tuesday, according to an e-mail obtained by the newspaper.
If the president were to bypass the Senate confirmation process -- which even Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the author of the legislation, reportedly said would be a bad idea -- he could name Warren as "acting director."
Or he could make a recess appointment when Congress is out of session. If well-timed, that route could last the length of one congressional term, enough time for Warren to prove herself or earn more foes.
A longtime critic of banks, Warren is a darling of the left after admonishing banks for lending practices tied to mortgages and credit cards. But her vocal criticism also makes her a pariah to the right.
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, told "The Wall Street Journal" that he would not support Warren in a Senate confirmation.
"I would like to see a more objective person in that job. Elizabeth Warren is obviously not an objective person," he was quoted as saying.
On Monday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was tight-lipped about a possible appointment, but she told Fox News that Warren is a voice for the people.
"Elizabeth Warren has been a stalwart voice for American consumers and families and she was the architect of the idea that became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The president will have more to say about the agency and its mission soon," she said.