Bipartisan House bill would replace consumer director with panel

Bipartisan House bill would replace consumer director with panel
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of House members on Wednesday released a bill that would replace the director of the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) with a five-person commission.

The bill from Reps. Dennis RossDennis Alan RossTrump, GOP launch full-court press on compromise immigration measure GOP will vote on immigration next week, sinking discharge petition GOP centrists face decision day on Dreamer petition MORE (R-Fla.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerFive GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Lawmakers demand answers from Mnuchin on Trump tariffs The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Mo.) and David ScottDavid Albert ScottAssociated Press to replace exit polls with voter survey after 2016 inaccuracies Overnight Regulation: Senate passes Dodd-Frank rollback | SEC charges Theranos CEO with 'massive fraud' | Former Equifax exec charged with insider trading | FEC proposes changing digital ad rules Bipartisan House bill would replace consumer director with panel MORE (D-Ga.) would rename the CFPB and replace its director with a bipartisan panel.

While the bill would easily pass the House, it would likely be filibustered in the Senate by Democrats who have protested changes to the CFPB.

Under the bill, the CFPB would become the Financial Product Safety Commission, directed by a panel appointed by the president. No more than three commissioners could be from the same political party, and the president could remove a member for “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance.”

The bill is an attempt to rein in the CFPB director’s sole control over the agency’s extensive authority. Republicans have long insisted that the bureau, opened in 2013, is too powerful, immune from congressional oversight and dependent on the whims of the director.

The CFPB issued a slew of regulations and pursued aggressive actions against financial companies suspected of wrongdoing under former director Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayLiberals view Kavanaugh as existential threat to consumer bureau Mulvaney appoints top aide as consumer bureau acting No. 2 On The Money: Strong June as economy adds 213K jobs | China blames Trump for 'biggest trade war' in history | Consumer bureau deputy to resign, end legal fight with Trump MORE. While Democrats praised Cordray for his tough oversight of lenders, Republicans and the financial sector argued the CFPB overstepped its boundaries.

Supporters of the CFPB commission say a five-person panel would provide more stability for the agency and prevent any political ideology from dominating the agenda. Acting CFPB Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyFive 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 Mulvaney appoints top aide as consumer bureau acting No. 2 MORE, a staunch conservative, has enraged liberal former allies of the bureau by scaling back the agency’s operations.

Democrats say installing a CFPB commission would hinder the agency from fulfilling its mission, laid out in the Dodd-Frank Act, to protect consumers from risky financial products and fraud. They insist that Republicans could kneecap the CFPB by refusing to confirm commissioners.

The bill seeks to limit those concerns by allowing the commission to approve all agency actions with just two of five commissioners in place.

Major financial sector lobbying groups that have sought to rein in the bureau endorsed the bill shortly after its release.

The Consumer Bankers Association, National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions and Credit Union National Association praised the measure in Wednesday statements.