During today’s hearing to review the semi-annual report of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, praised the agency’s work to diligently protect consumers and ensure fairness in the financial system, even in the face of historic Republican efforts to undermine, eliminate and render the agency ineffective.
Waters noted in her remarks the agency’s tremendous track record, delivering $5.3 billion in relief to 15 million American consumers and service members since its inception in 2011.
Waters highlighted the many ways Republicans have worked to harm the consumer agency, citing efforts to advance legislation that would undermine the agency’s ability to shield consumers from duplicitous financial practices, end its autonomy, dismantle its leadership and bog down operations with countless requests for documents. These actions divert critical staff resources otherwise used to protect consumers from unscrupulous payday lenders, debt collectors and other financial predators.
The Congresswoman also commended the agency’s valiant efforts to respond to Republican inquiries, which include nearly 30 requests for information, with at least 73 subparts; six in the last month alone. The requests have yielded more than 5,000 pages of responses, numerous phone calls, in-camera reviews – which do not account for responses to other committees or individual Member requests.
The remarks follow the release of a letter today by Congresswoman Waters raising serious concerns with the Republican majority’s latest effort to undermine the consumer agency through the use of unilateral subpoena authority. Under new rules adopted this Congress, CFPB has only two weeks to respond to requests for information before facing an automatic Congressional subpoena, subject to the Chairman’s discretion. Should the Bureau’s response fail to arbitrarily satisfy the majority, a subpoena will be issued.
Full text of the remarks are below.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and welcome back, Director Cordray.
Director Cordray, your work protecting consumers and service members continues to be remarkable, directly refunding $5.3 billion dollars to more than 15 million consumers and service members. You’ve helped solved countless problems and complaints – all while promulgating important rules to guard against the risky and irresponsible behavior that hurt so many during the crisis.
But Director Cordray, despite your agency’s tremendous accomplishments, the Bureau continues to be assaulted by Republicans on any number of fronts. In every way imaginable, Republicans are pushing to destroy and render the Bureau ineffective.
Taking their strategy from Wall Street, predatory lenders and other bad actors in our financial system – the Republicans on this Committee have advanced countless measures that would undermine the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers from deceptive marketing, unlawful debt collection, lending discrimination, illegal fees, and other unscrupulous activity.
This includes legislation to destabilize CFPB’s leadership, end its autonomy, and tie its independent funding to the whims of the Congressional appropriations process.
And it also includes a number of efforts designed to bog the Bureau down in additional paperwork—whether through legislation or through threats of subpoenas.
In just the past year, the CFPB has received 30 separate inquiries from the Republicans on this Committee – featuring at least 73 separate and extensive document requests. Six of these requests were made in the short month of February alone.
The responses have yielded dozens of letters, numerous staff briefings, phone calls, in-camera reviews, more than 5,600 pages of documents, and a 48-minute audio file.
And none of this includes the hundreds of additional pages of documents requested by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, by Committees in the Senate or from individual Members.
Just last week, we received word that in the future, you’ll only be giving the CFPB two weeks to respond to these large and onerous requests – or face the specter of Congressional subpoena.
I cannot imagine staff time and resources that the Bureau has spent responding to your frivolous requests – at the expense of helping our nation’s consumers.
But that’s precisely the Republican playbook. They want the CFPB to be wasting resources digging out from under a deluge of requests – so that the payday lenders, debt collectors and other predators can continue victimizing the American people unabated.
Mr. Chairman, your party pretends to care about the huge challenges of income inequality and minority access to credit, vilifying this agency as “hurting the very people we are trying to help.”
But as one of your members made very clear to Chairwoman Yellen last week, Republicans only feign to care about these issues. Democrats are proud to be, as your own membership put it, the “one party that was pushing the idea of income inequality over the other party.”
And we will continue working to address this problem. Thank you.”