House Committee Approves Six-Pack of Bills Targeting CFPB (Nov. 26, 2013)
The House Financial Services Committee, led by Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), approved no less than a half-dozen bills late last week aimed at bringing more accountability, oversight and transparency to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Among the legislation is H.R. 2446, which calls for the agency to be led by a five-member bipartisan commission appointed by the president. “An agency led by multiple individuals is consistent with other federal banking regulators,” including the Federal Reserve, FDIC and SEC, according to the bill. The commission would replace CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
“These are modest, common-sense bills that bring a modicum of accountability and transparency to the CFPB,” Hensarling said. “Arguably it is the single most powerful and least accountable federal agency.”
H.R. 3519 subjects the CFPB to congressional oversight through the regular appropriations process. H.R. 2385 sets the pay rates of CFPB employees in accordance with the federal pay scale. Currently, pay rates are set by the agency’s director. H.R. 2571 prohibits the agency from collecting personal financial information about consumers without their knowledge or consent, and H.R. 3183 provides consumers with a free annual disclosure of information the CFPB maintains on them. H.R. 3193 requires the agency to consider the “safety and soundness” of financial institutions before issuing rules and regulations that could be detrimental to FIs.
Cordray faced the House Financial Services Committee in September to present the agency’s semi-annual report, at which time some lawmakers accused the CFPB of stonewalling requests for information the committee made months earlier regarding how the CFPB collects financial data on U.S. citizens, among other inquiries.
During the September hearing, Cordray said the CFPB is “the nation’s first federal agency whose sole focus is protecting consumers in the financial marketplace,” and he outlined the agency’s efforts to supervise debt collectors and credit reporting companies, enforcement actions against credit card companies that “deceived and misled” consumers, and policy recommendations for student loan reforms.