Pence breaks tie to nix Obama-era consumer arbitration rule

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Vice President Pence joined with Senate Republicans to nix a controversial consumer bureau rule banning companies from using forced settlements to resolve disputes with customers.
Senators voted 50-50 on the resolution of disapproval. GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John Kennedy (La.) joined with Democrats to oppose cutting the Obama-era rule. 
Pence then took over the presiding officer’s chair and cast the tie-breaking vote to make the total 51-50. 
Republicans used the Congressional Review Act, which gives them 60 legislative days to repeal an executive branch rule after it’s finalized with a simple majority. 
{mosads}The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rule would ban banks and credit card companies from using clauses in customer contracts that protect them from class-action lawsuits. 
So-called forced arbitration clauses require customers to resolve any disputes with the firm through a third-party mediator and bans them from suing the company.
Democrats argue nixing the rule would be a boon to Wall Street and financial institutions, who have warned that the regulation could force them to spend money on costly lawsuits. 
“Our job is to look out for the people whom we serve, not to look out for Wells Fargo, not to look out for Equifax, not to look out for Wall Street banks, not to look out for corporations who scam consumers,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said ahead of the vote. 
Democrats on Tuesday spoke on the Senate floor for hours against the rule. 
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) aimed her appeals to squash the rule directly at President Trump. 
“President Trump, Mike Pence works for you. … You’ve gone on and on and on about how strong you are, about how tough you are, and about how you are going to stand up to Wall Street,” she said. 
Brown, wrapping up the Democrats’ floor speeches, noted that Pence had just arrived in the Capitol. 
“The vice president only shows up in this body when the rich and powerful need him,” he said. 
The rule forces companies to write arbitration clauses in ways that would not prevent consumers from joining class-action lawsuits. Republicans and business groups have criticized the rule, claiming it would help no one but trial lawyers. 
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) fired back that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democrats are trying to “cry crocodile tears.”
“Not everybody can afford to be O.J. Simpson and hire the very best lawyers in America and to try a case for weeks on end at a cost of millions of dollars,” he added. 
The Treasury Department and Comptroller of the Currency have also criticized the rule, warring with CFPB Director Richard Cordray and top Democratic lawmakers in op-eds and interviews.
Cordray knocked lawmakers after the vote, saying, “Wall Street won and ordinary people lost.”
“This vote means the courtroom doors will remain closed for groups of people seeking justice and relief when they are wronged by a company. It preserves a two-tiered justice system where banks can have their day in court but deny their customers the same right. … I urge President Trump to stand with consumers and veto this resolution,” he said in a statement.
A Treasury Department analysis of the rule released earlier this week argued the measure would lead to 3,000 more class-action suits over the next five years.
The CFPB said Treasury’s report “rehashes industry arguments” that were ”solidly refuted in the final rule.”
Tuesday’s vote was widely expected to come down to a handful of moderate GOP senators. In addition to Kennedy and Graham, GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and Rob Portman (Ohio) did not say ahead of time how they would vote. 
Tags Charles Schumer Elizabeth Warren John Cornyn John Kennedy Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Mike Pence Rob Portman Sherrod Brown Susan Collins
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