Rep. Waters to Focus on Restoring CFPB

On January 3, 2019, Democrats officially took over leadership of the US House of Representatives. Representative Maxine Waters (D, CA-43), a longtime champion of the CFPB, became head of the House Financial Services Committee.

In an interview that evening on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes”, Representative Waters said "I've been focused on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That was the centerpiece of the Dodd/Frank reform. And Mulvaney [has] tried to dismantle the consumer financial protection bureau. I'm going to focus on that and we're going to try and undo the damage that Mulvaney has done," she added. "The last two years have been very dangerous. I have been appalled and surprised at how blatant it has been."

In October 2018, Rep. Maxine Waters introduced a bill that would:

  • Limit the number of political appointees at the bureau  (Mulvaney strongly preferred political appointees with agendas)
  • Restore the organizational structure of the student loan and fair lending offices (Mulvaney merged these into “education” instead of “enforcement”) 
  • Require that the agency's consumer complaint database remain publicly accessible 
  • Restore the panel of Consumer Advisory Board members (Mulvaney fired all of them in June 2017 after they called him out for refusing to have legally required meetings.)

Since Mulvaney’s takeover in November 2017, zero new fair lending cases have been announced. The agency has been called out for scaling back regulations of payday lenders (an industry championed by Mulvaney while he was in Congress), cutting back on enforcement of student lending regulations, and abdicating their responsibility to enforce the Military Lending Act designed to protect service members and veterans from predatory lending practices.

Mulvaney’s successor at the CFPB, new Director Kathy Kraninger, was just confirmed on December 6, 2018 on a 50-49 vote. Granger has said she will continue to follow Mulvaney’s policies. 

Mulvaney was informed by Representative Waters in December 2018 that he would likely be called to testify as to his handling of the CFPB. The letter began:

"It has been more than eight months since your last and only appearance before the House Financial Services Committee ("Committee") to discuss your activities at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("Consumer Bureau"). That hearing on April 11, 2018, was the only oversight hearing held by the Committee during your more than 12 month tenure of running the Consumer Bureau, despite the law requiring, at a minimum, your testimony before the Committee semi-annually. The weak congressional oversight under the direction of the outgoing Republican Majority pales in comparison to their oversight of former Director Richard Cordray's tenure, when he and other senior officials testified before Congress more than 60 times. Of course, your tenure began when President Trump unlawfully appointed you, his Office of Management and Budget ("OMB") Director, to run the Consumer Bureau, allowing a White House official to run what should be an independent regulatory agency, creating numerous potential conflicts of interest arising from your dual role running the OMB and Consumer Bureau. I am writing to inform you that while your time running the Consumer Bureau may be over, the time for accountability for your actions is about to begin."

More Information:

Maxine Waters: Much of my work will be undoing Mulvaney's 'damage' to CFPB (The Hill, 3 Jan 2019)

Maxine Waters’s latest task in the House: protecting you and your money (Vox, updated 3 Jan 2019)

Maxine Waters Tells Trump She Can Investigate Him And Fight For The Middle Class At The Same Time (PoliticusUSA 3 Jan 2019)

Representative Maxine Waters (D, CA-43): Consumer Protection

Letter to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney from Representative Maxine Waters, ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee (20 Dec 2018)

How Democrats plan to save the agency Republicans love to hate (Politico, 18 Nov 2018)

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