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Senate banking chair pushes back against Republican CFPB reforms

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Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said he will not take up Republican demands to "re-legislate" the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before it has a chance to open. A group of 44 Republican senators sent a letter to President Obama in May vowing not to vote for any nominee to lead the CFPB when it opens July 21 until structural changes are made. Republicans want to establish a committee instead of a director, along with putting in more oversight and veto ability over any rules the agency issues. "Senate Republicans may want to use revisionist history, but the structure of the CFPB was developed with Republican ideas in bipartisan negotiations last year. However, they ultimately chose to walk away instead of supporting these important new protections for American consumers," Johnson said this week. "We should not re-legislate the bureau when it hasn’t even had a chance to start doing its job." Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), leading Republican on the banking committee, was one of the leaders of the letter. In it, Republicans said regulators should be given the ability to prevent the CFPB from causing unnecessary bank failures with their burdensome rules. Three bills reforming the CFPB cleared the House Financial Services Committee last week. Senate Democrats have said these and other House legislation to end foreclosure-prevention programs are essentially "dead on arrival." "Republicans opposed a strong consumer watchdog from the start, and now they are at it again," Johnson said. "The truth is this bureau is already subject to greater checks and balances than any other financial regulator and this is just another attempt to delay and derail these critical new protections." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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