OPIOID SERIES:

Dems blast Trump for overriding consumer bureau with temporary pick

Top Democratic lawmakers and consumer-rights groups are blasting President Trump’s decision to appoint an acting director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), superseding a chosen successor for the post.

Trump nominated White House budget chief Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyWells Fargo to pay billion fine to settle federal probes of mortgage, insurance sales Overnight Finance: IMF chief warns against US-China trade war | Trump, Abe can't strike deal on tariff exemptions | Republicans push Trump to rescind Gateway funds House Republicans push Mulvaney, Trump to rescind Gateway funds MORE to serve as acting director of the CFPB on Friday following Director Richard Cordray’s resignation. The move is meant to prevent Cordray’s hand-picked temporary successor, Deputy Director Leandra English, from leading the CFPB until a permanent leader is sworn in.

White House officials insisted on Saturday that Trump has the authority to override the CFPB’s order of the succession.

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Prominent Democrats who’ve fiercely defended the CFPB under Cordray called Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney an illegal attempt to destroy the agency from within.

“The Dodd-Frank Act is clear: if there is a @CFPB Director vacancy, the Deputy Director becomes Acting Director. @realDonaldTrump can’t override that," tweeted Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDem senators demand Trump explain ties to Koch brothers 'Fearless Girl' statue to be moved away from Wall Street bull Sanders, Warren, O’Rourke inspire patriotic small donor waves MORE (D-Mass.), the CFPB’s architect. 

“[Trump] can nominate the next @CFPB Director - but until that nominee is confirmed by the Senate, Leandra English is the Acting Director under the Dodd-Frank Act,” Warren added.

Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, called Mulvaney “an unacceptable candidate to lead the Consumer Bureau.”

"[Mulvaney] has not only expressed noxious views about the important work that the Consumer Bureau does to protect hardworking Americans, he has also worked to destroy it,” Waters said in statement.

While serving as a congressman before joining the Trump administration, Mulvaney sponsored bills to eliminate the CFPB and backed other legislation to put it under closer legislative oversight.

Waters also objected to Mulvaney serving as director of the Office of Management and Budget  while leading the CFPB.

She expressed concerns that Mulvaney sitting on the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Financial Stability Oversight Council as the acting CFPB head would give the White House “an alarming degree of direct control over financial regulation, supervision, and enforcement.”

“It is inappropriate for Trump’s sitting Director of the Office of Management and Budget to simultaneously lead the Consumer Bureau, which is an independent agency,” Waters said.

Several groups aligned with Cordray's CFPB have also insisted that Mulvaney step aside.

The National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit focused on consumer rights, called Mulvaney’s appointment “an illegal affront to the American public.”

“In an attempt to install a wrecking ball at the helm of the consumer watchdog, President Trump has ignored the law that dictates that the consumer bureau’s deputy director takes over until Congress can confirm a new director,” said Lauren Saunders, the center's associate director.

Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, called Mulvaney’s appointment “unlawful.”

“Leandra English is the rightful Acting Director of the Bureau,” Calhoun said. “Naming Mick Mulvaney — someone who’s adamantly anti-consumer — rewards financial predators and fails to put consumers first.”

The White House defended Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney on Saturday, insisting the Federal Vacancies Act empowers Trump to override the CFPB line of succession.

The Vacancies Act allows the president to appoint any Senate-confirmed official as acting director of an agency or department.

One senior administration official said the CFPB’s line of succession “continues to be available as a default," but that “the Vacancies Act is also there as a way that the president can supersede the way those agency statutes work.”

“The common objections that you hear in these various blog posts online is that ‘Oh, the CFPB statue said the CFPB deputy director shall serve as the director,' ” the official said. “That’s clear in lots of these statues that the Vacancies Act trumps."