President Barack Obama has named high-powered New York prosecutor and organised crime-buster Mary Jo White to lead the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to implement his Wall Street reforms.
Obama also on Thursday nominated Richard Cordray to be the permanent head of his new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which combats predatory loan and credit card practices. Cordray has led the bureau since a recess appointment in 2012.
"It is not enough to change the law, we also need cops on the beat," Obama said, styling both picks as consistent with his drive for a more equitable economy for the middle class, as he made the announcement at the White House.
Obama noted that White had spent her career prosecuting high-profile fraud cases in New York and had brought down mafia kingpin John Gotti, who headed the Gambino crime syndicate.
"She brought to justice the terrorists responsible for bombing the World Trade Center and the American embassies in Africa. So I'd say that's a pretty good run. You don't want to mess with Mary Jo," Obama said.
White has also served on the board of the Nasdaq exchange.
She will replace Mary Schapiro, who resigned as SEC chairwoman in December.
Obama called on the Senate to quickly confirm White and also Cordray, who will be out of a job before the end of the year unless he wins the chamber's endorsement.
Republicans were outraged last year, accusing the president of arrogance and overstepping his constitutional powers by installing Cordray at the CFPB even though the Senate had yet to confirm his appointment.
The CFPB, set up under Obama's 2010 financial regulatory law, has the power to protect consumers from predatory banking practices and hidden conditions on loans. It can also crack down on debt and credit agencies.
Obama had argued that without a director, the CFPB could not oversee payday loan firms, student loan providers and other non-bank lenders, including some mortgage firms and servicers.
He used a manoeuvre known as a recess appointment, which allows him to install a nominee for a calendar year even if he or she has not secured Senate confirmation to a key government post.
"Over the last year, Richard has proved to be a champion of American consumers. Thanks to his leadership, we've made it tougher for families to be tricked into mortgages they can't afford," Obama said.
"The American people need Richard to keep standing up for them. And there's absolutely no excuse for the Senate to wait any longer to confirm him."
Republicans, including the party's 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, had argued that Cordray should not be confirmed because the bureau was unaccountable to congress and could be unconstitutional.