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Luetkemeyer: Congress Must Act to Establish Meaningful Accountability at the Bureau

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Washington, June 6, 2018 | comments

Today, House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) delivered the following opening statement at a hearing to examine improved transparency and accountability at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection:

As prescribed in Dodd-Frank, the mission of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection is to “regulate the offering and provision of consumer financial products or services under the Federal consumer protection laws, and to educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions.” Unfortunately, the Bureau has failed to carry out its mission. 

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection hasn’t regulated based just on federal consumer protection laws. Under Director Cordray, the agency took it upon itself to essentially write law through guidance and regulate through enforcement. 

Further, the Bureau hasn’t worked to “educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions.” This hasn’t been a partnership between the government and the people.  Rather, the bureaucrats have worked diligently to eliminate options for Americans, arrogantly thinking that they are better equipped than consumers to make financial decisions. 

Thankfully, Acting Director Mulvaney is striving to foster an environment that promotes transparency, legitimacy, and greater consumer choice. He also would like us to have us call the bureau by its correct name which is Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection instead of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Mr. Mulvaney has committed to a more tempered and data-driven process.  He’s outlining a vision that, for the first time, conforms to Congress’ mandate.  The Acting Director is to be commended for the progress he’s made thus far, but we must recognize that not all reforms can be done administratively. In his latest Semi-Annual Report to the President and the Congress, Mr. Mulvaney sent a clear message to us: Congress must act in an effort to establish meaningful accountability.

Specifically, Acting Director Mulvaney first pointed to the need to fund the Bureau through the Congressional appropriations process. Next, subject the Director to the full power of the President’s executive authorities. Further, require legislative approval of major Bureau rules. And finally, establish an independent Inspector General to oversee the Bureau, its leadership, and its staff. 

Members of this Committee have promoted these very ideas since the inception of the Bureau.  I’m very pleased to see that House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Chairman Tom Graves included all of these provisions in his Fiscal Year 2019 financial services bill.

Today, our distinguished panel will discuss their views on these and other ideas for reform, many of which were also included in Title Seven of Chairman Hensarling’s CHOICE Act.  We look forward to a productive conversation on initiatives that will increase transparency and ensure that the Bureau focuses more intently on its actual mission rather than abusing its authorities to promote a political agenda and, in actuality, does little to protect consumers. 

The American people deserve a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection that enforces law rather than creates it; and that gives power and choice back to the consumers.  We thank our witnesses for appearing and look forward to your testimony.


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