Dems pressure Pelosi on consumer protection in Wall Street reform bill

A group of House Democrats wrote their top two leaders Wednesday to insist they keep intact a strong consumer financial protection agency in Wall Street reform legislation.

Four House Democrats, including a key chairman, warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) against weakening a proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) or housing it within the Federal Reserve, as is called for in the Senate-passed bill.

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"The ability of the CFPA, as conceived in the House bill, to vigorously fight for consumers, enforce basic rules so that no consumer can get tricked or trapped into buying a home they can’t afford and ensure that credit card applications are easily understandable and their terms fair and reasonable will be much stronger than it would be under the Senate bill," the group wrote in a letter to the leadership.

"We strongly urge you to insist on the more independent, House-passed version of the CFPA," they later added.


The letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), and Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio).

The House passed its own financial reform bill in late 2009 in a 223 to 202 vote, giving Democrats five votes to spare. But if the four Democrats voted against the bill and newly elected Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) were to oppose the legislation, it could endanger Democrats' majority on the bill.

The House and Senate are expected to begin working to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bill in a formal conference starting next week, after lawmakers return from recess. Among the sticking points will be consumer protection, as well as tougher language in the Senate-passed bill on regulating derivatives.

Democrats have promised an "open" conference, meaning the media will have access to the typically closed-door process.

The group of House Democrats urged Pelosi and Hoyer "to insist on the strongest possible consumer protections and to reject a watered down version" during the conference.