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Lending

Mortgage industry watches Congressional, CFPB leadership changes closely

Raj Date, the number two executive at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is stepping down from his post next year, leaving a spot where he currently wears two hats: industry expert and consumer advocate. 

"Raj brought continuity," said Mortgage Bankers Association CEO David Stevens. "He also had experience in the private sector having worked for Capital One."

Raj additionally served Deutsche Bank (DB) before becoming de facto leader of the CFPB during the period stretching from the bureau's July 2011 launch and the appointment of current director Richard Cordray.

Date's official role for the past two years has been deputy director of the CFPB.

His departure comes at a time when the financial services industry is waiting with baited breath to see who will assume leadership positions within the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees. Stevens noted in an interview with HousingWire that having someone with Date's unique profile is a benefit to the industry and to the CFPB.

"Obviously replacing Raj is really important," Stevens said. He noted that whoever takes his spot at the CFPB will have 3,000 pages of rules to understand. Stevens says understanding how those rules interact with the financial system is a critical component of the job, and he noticed those abilities in Date.

"I hope they replace him with someone who has that kind of experience," Stevens added.

The CFPB changes may as well be called minor when comparing them to the potential transitions within Congress.

First, there's the Senate Banking Committee. Bloomberg-BNA reports that the Senate Banking Committee has 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Two spots are open on the Democrats' side.

Will or will Elizabeth Warren, the designer of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, fill one of those spots? Some say Warren is definitely a potential fit, while Bloomberg-BNA analysis suggests Warren may opt for another committee related to student loans. Stevens said the MBA is definitely watching the Senate Banking Committee closely.

Either way, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., is expected to end his time as the top Republican on the Senate Banking and Housing Committee, Bloomberg-BNA reports.  The same report suggests that Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., will remain chairman.

Stevens reiterated the well-known belief that Democrat Maxine Waters, D-Calif., will be the new ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX, could very well become the new chairman of the Committee.

"While there will be changes on that committee, I don't expect a lot of activity as it relates to the regulatory environment," Stevens said. He noted that it's highly unlikely legislators will have the room to get major changes through Congress.

Stevens noted that other non-elected positions are being watched closely. "We are curious to see who stays in the most critical jobs."

Among them: Treasury Secretary, and the acting director of the FHFA position, which is currently filled by Ed DeMarco.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com

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