Mulvaney to bankers: Your input will help limit consumer bureau's power

Mulvaney to bankers: Your input will help limit consumer bureau's power
© Greg Nash

Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyWho watches the ‘watchdog?’ It's time for accountability for the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump suggests China is easing pressure on North Korea because of trade fight | Mulvaney taps top aide as No. 2 at consumer bureau | House Republican to offer bill to curtail Trump's trade powers MORE, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), on Tuesday told bankers that direct engagement with their representatives would bolster their efforts to curtail the bureau’s power and loosen financial regulations.

Mulvaney, the White House budget director, told a Washington conference of more than 1,000 bankers that their input on the extensive powers of the CFPB could help rein in the agency long loathed by the financial sector.

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"What you do here matters,” said Mulvaney, a former GOP congressman, at an American Bankers Association (ABA) conference on Tuesday. “People coming from back home to tell people in Congress what issues are important to them is one of the fundamental underpinnings of representative democracy, and you have to continue to do it.”

Mulvaney said he “had a hierarchy in my office in Congress” in which he valued the opinions of his South Carolina constituents over lobbyists who donated to his campaigns.

“If you were a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you were a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you. If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I would talk to you without exception, regardless of the financial contributions,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney’s comments came as thousands of bankers affiliated with the ABA flooded Capitol Hill to support a sweeping effort to exempt dozens of banks from stricter oversight under the Dodd-Frank Act.

The group is pressuring the House to clear a bipartisan Senate bill to loosen Dodd-Frank that is currently being frozen by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Kelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.) over concerns from GOP lawmakers.

As a congressman, Mulvaney was one of the fiercest critics of Dodd-Frank and backed efforts to eliminate the CFPB, created by the 2010 law to crack down on predatory lending. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE appointed Mulvaney, who is also the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to be acting chief of the CFPB in November, and Mulvaney has since taken several steps to ease the bureau’s aggressive oversight the financial services sector.

Mulvaney has also called on lawmakers to weaken the CFPB director’s unchecked power, take control of the bureau’s funding and drastically limit the scope of what the agency can do without congressional approval.

The acting director urged the crowd of bankers to push their representatives to support these changes among the myriad issues Congress deals with on a daily basis.

“They will never know as much about your industry as you do. They will never know as much about your issues as you do, and they will not know that it is important to you as it is until you tell them,” Mulvaney said.

"You may be completely on the other end of political ideology from me and I don't care. The fact that people simply come up and get engaged will always have value, at least I hope that it will, so thank you for doing that."

Republicans and the financial services industry have long griped that the CFPB overstepped its mandate and abused its power with aggressive actions against banks and other lenders. Democrats have defended the CFPB as an essential, independent watchdog that has fought for and reimbursed millions of Americans who were bilked by shady lenders.

Mulvaney has worked to transform the CFPB and reverse the bureau’s regulatory and enforcement legacy from within.

He has delayed the implementation of a rule on payday loans, ended several lawsuits brought against lenders by his Democratic predecessor and ceased the bureau’s collection of consumer data used to monitor markets for fraud.

Mulvaney has also pledged to give banks and lenders suspected of wrongdoing broader leeway to correct their actions if they were unaware they were breaking the law.

Mulvaney has insisted that the CFPB will continue to crackdown on banks and lenders knowingly violate defraud or abuse their customers.

The CFPB fined Wells Fargo $1 billion Friday in a joint action with the comptroller of the currency, and Mulvaney said Tuesday he is overseeing about 25 other lawsuits against lenders.

Luis Sanchez contributed.

This report was updated at 9:12 a.m. Wednesday to clarify Mulvaney's statements.