Senate Banking Committee members questioned key aspects of the Obama administration's plan to create a consumer financial protection agency at a hearing yesterday, but failed to pin down answers from the star witness: Michael Barr, the Treasury's point man on the proposal.

Senators wanted to know why consumer protection should be separated from prudential regulation; how the new agency would ensure uniform enforcement among bank and nonbank lenders; and whether a requirement that plain-vanilla products be offered first would hamstring market innovation.

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