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WASHINGTON – President Obama praised the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday, a day after the Senate acted on the long-stalled confirmation of the agency’s director, Richard Cordray. Obama said the agency designed to protect consumers in their financial dealings can now work without a cloud over its head.

“Together we’re giving Americans a guarantee that the protections they enjoy today will still be around next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, and for years to come,” Obama said at White House ceremony saluting Cordray’s confirmation.

Creation of the bureau was one of the key features of a 2010 financial regulation law, and it has long been a point of contention with Republicans.

Cordray’s confirmation and his swearing-in by Vice President Biden on Wednesday morning cap a drawn out fight between Obama on the one hand and the financial industry and GOP lawmakers on the other over the authority of the agency. Republicans have sought to alter the agency’s structure and the means by which it is financed to give Congress greater control.

“For two years, Republicans in the Senate refused to give Rich a simple yes or no vote, not because they didn’t think he was the right person for the job, but because they didn’t like the law that set up the consumer watchdog in the first place,” Obama said.

Obama last year placed Cordray in the job through an appointment when the Senate was not fully in session. Republicans have challenged the appointment, arguing that the Senate was not officially in recess to permit Obama to act on his own.

Obama, noting that he took matters into his own hands, said Wednesday that “without a director in place, the CFPB would have been severely hampered.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat credited with conceiving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said confirmation of a director for the agency is both a major step and a call to vigilance.

“This is a monumentally important week for the CFPB,” Warren said in remarks prepared for an event marking the second anniversary of the agency created by the Dodd-Frank Act. “But there’s still a lot of work to be done, and so long as the CFPB sides with American families over large financial institutions, there will be forces looking to undo its work.”

– Bloomberg News contributed to this report.