In 2007, the American economy was shaken to its core. Trillions of dollars in wealth disappeared. Once vibrant communities became victims of foreclosure and neighborhood blight. Businesses folded and many Americans lost their jobs as a direct consequence of the financial crisis.
Minority communities throughout the nation were especially impacted, with neighborhoods like the African-American suburb of Prince George’s County losing half of all newly built homes to foreclosure. Nationally, the wealth of African-American families dropped a staggering 53 percent. Without question, a large part of that decline was a direct consequence of predatory lending practices by the financial services industry, targeted at communities of color, and the absence of a strong, independent federal regulator with the ability to stop it.
President Obama and Democrats in Congress put in place the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) to change that. A key aspect of Dodd-Frank is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – the first and only federal financial regulatory agency dedicated exclusively to consumer protection interests of American borrowers, service members, students, and seniors. Under the leadership of its first Senate-confirmed Director, Richard Cordray, the CFPB has worked hard to eliminate predatory lending practices, making the market safer for both consumers and financial institutions.
Yet, rather than support those efforts, Congressional Republicans are determined to hamper the success of the CFPB by attacking Director Cordray and trying to convince the Trump administration to remove him from his position. Their attacks are without cause.
Throughout his nearly four-year tenure, Director Cordray has amassed an impressive record of protecting consumers. For minority borrowers, the common targets of financial predation, the impact of his leadership has been especially significant. Under Director Cordray, the CFPB has brought nearly a dozen enforcement actions against financial service providers that overcharged or restricted access for minority borrowers. This led to nearly $30 million in civil monetary penalties and over $400 million in restitution for approximately 1.4 million affected minority consumers.
Despite the millions of minorities who have benefitted directly from the CFPB’s efforts, Republicans are feigning concern for racial minorities as a justification for the removal of Director Cordray. The CFPB, like many federal agencies, has dealt with allegations of racial discrimination. However, Director Cordray has proven his commitment towards eliminating any patterns of discrimination and instituting effective strategies to combat practices that may have disparate effects on employees of color.
When an internal report designed to evaluate the CFPB’s Performance Management Rating system revealed disparate treatment for certain categories of employees several years ago, Director Cordray directed changes to the CFPB’s performance rating system and proactively compensated all past and current employees who may have potentially been harmed. He also empowered a joint labor-management working group within the CFPB to monitor the performance rating system, identify any disparities and their causes, and recommend changes.
We applaud Director Cordray’s recognition that racial discrimination has no place in the federal government. We encourage Congressional Republicans and the incoming administration to adopt that same zero-tolerance policy when considering all candidates for federal office.
Communities of color and, indeed, all consumers in America, will continue to benefit from having Director Cordray remain in his position and implement the mandates imposed upon him by Congress as the Director of the CFPB. Director Cordray has our unyielding support as the leader of America’s most important consumer protection agency.
The Congressional Black Caucus is an organization representing the black members of the United States Congress. This op-ed was endorsed by the following caucus members: Representative Maxine Waters, ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services, Representative Cedric Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Alma Adams, Representative Karen BassKaren Ruth BassDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Bass says she is 'seriously considering' running for LA mayor MORE, Representative Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyHarris, CBC put weight behind activist-led National Black Voter Day Activists gear up for voting rights march to mark King anniversary GOP hopefuls fight for Trump's favor in Ohio Senate race MORE, Representative Anthony Brown, Representative G. K. Butterfield, Representative André Carson, Representative Yvette Clarke Representative William Lacy Clay, Jr., Representative Emanuel Cleaver, Representative Jim Clyburn, Representative John Conyers, Jr., Representative Elijah Cummings, Representative Danny K. Davis, Representative Val Demings, Representative Keith Ellison, Representative Dwight Evans, Representative Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeSanders goes back to 2016 playbook to sell .5T budget Activists detail legal fight against HUD for Philadelphia housing Photos of the Week: Rep. Cori Bush, Beirut clash and duck derby MORE, Representative Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenThousands march on Washington in voting rights push Rental aid emerges as new housing fight after eviction ban Rep. Al Green, Texas state lawmaker arrested outside Capitol during voting rights protest MORE, Representative Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeAngelina Jolie spotted in Capitol meeting with senators Elon Musk after Texas Gov. Abbott invokes him: 'I would prefer to stay out of politics' Without major changes, more Americans could be victims of online crime MORE, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, Representative Hank Johnson, Representative Brenda Lawrence, Representative Al Lawson, Representative Barbara Lee, Representative John Lewis, Representative Gregory Meeks, Representative Gwen MooreGwen Sophia MooreWisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans Pelosi picks Democrats for special panel tackling inequality Democrats offer bill to encourage hiring of groups hard-hit by pandemic MORE, Representative Donald Payne, Jr., Delegate Stacey Plaskett, Representative Bobby Rush, Representative Robert “Bobby” Scott, Representative Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellThousands march on Washington in voting rights push Activists gear up for voting rights march to mark King anniversary House approves John Lewis voting rights measure MORE, Representative Bennie Thompson, Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Representative Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonBiden's embrace of Trump-era border policy frustrates Democrats Five big questions as Jan. 6 panel preps subpoenas Biden to meet with Surfside families as rescue efforts enter eighth day MORE.
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