Shut-out lawmaker looks to end closed CFPB meetings

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Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) has proposed legislation that would prohibit the advisory committee of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from holding closed meetings, a change Duffy says is needed to bring transparency to the agency.

Duffy's bill was proposed a few weeks after the CFPB said he could not attend a recent advisory committee meeting. The second-term Republican said only the CIA and the Federal Reserve should be able to hold closed meetings, and the CFPB, which writes rules affecting consumer finance companies, should not be given the same status as those entities.

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"What is the CFPB doing that is on par with the CIA? It makes everyone want to ask, 'What exactly goes on in these meetings?' " Duffy said Wednesday.

Duffy said that when he asked to attend a recent CFPB meeting, his staff was told simply, "We cannot accommodate the congressman's request."

Despite Duffy's complaint, the CFPB does enjoy an exemption under a 1972 law aimed at requiring government advisory bodies to operate openly. The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) does not apply to advisory committees under the CIA and the Federal Reserve, and the CFPB is housed in the Federal Reserve System.

Duffy's bill, H.R. 4262, would eliminate this exemption, and subject the CFPB to FACA.

A spokesman for the CFPB says the bureau held an open meeting on February 27, and said minutes from closed meetings on February 26 and 27 will be posted online, as is the case for all their closed meetings.

Last month, the House passed a bill that would restructure the CFPB into a five-member board, which Republicans say would help moderate the consumer financial regulations the bureau is authorized to write.

— This story was updated at 8:54 a.m., March 21