A bill to place the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under the appropriations process passed the U.S. House Financial Services Committee 33-20 Wednesday. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) fully supports the bill, and CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan expressed his appreciation to the committee following the vote.
“We thank the House Financial Services Committee for their action on this legislation, which is a great regulatory relief opportunity for credit unions,” he said. “The committee has passed 21 regulatory relief bills this Congress, and we’re working to see some of them make it across the finish line and become law.”
The Taking Account of Bureaucrats’ Spending Act of 2015 (H.R. 1486) is consistent with CUNA’s belief that the CFPB should be placed under the appropriations process to provide additional oversight and to incentivize the CFPB to focus its attention on the abusers of consumers.
Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) said he regularly hears from financial services providers across his state that the CFPB does not respond to their concerns, and that H.R. 1486 would provide Congress with the ability to push to get answers.
“How many times, and for how long, have we requested bipartisan, commonsense policies that would provide meaningful relief for our nation’s community banks and credit unions?” he said. “I think it was close to this time last year that hundreds of members [of Congress], Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, sent the CFPB a letter asking for more time to implement the [Truth in Lending Act-Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act] integrated disclosure rule. The CFPB brushed off our concerns.”
Committee Chair Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) cited a number of specific examples of the CFPB-created regulatory burden having the opposite of the bureau’s stated intent--that instead the burden harming consumers. The burden is causing small financial institutions to pull back on services such as mortgage lending and free checking, he noted.
The committee was mostly divided on the bill along party lines, but Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) told members of the committee that certain changes, such as placing the CFPB under the appropriations process, as well as another CUNA-backed notion of replacing the bureau director with a five-person board, would help keep the bureau around under a Republican administration.
“If I wanted to eliminate the funding levels of the CFPB, the best way for me to that that is for me, when I leave on Jan. 4, is ask the new president of the United States to appoint me to be the new CFPB director,” he said. “And my funding level request for the next year would be $50,000. And you would have absolutely no say-so in that. I think you all have to think about that.
“Right now you have a democratically appointed CFPB director, but if you get a Republican-appointed one, and he wants to fire half or all of the people there, if he wants to eliminate the budget and sit in his office and answer the phone all day long there’s absolutely nothing that you can do about it,” he said. “So I think when you’re against accountability, you have to understand it might look like a good plan today, but it might not in the future.”
CUNA supports the notion that a five-person board would provide bureau continuity.