Congressional Republicans mull bill to add CFPB oversight

Legislates greater accountability, diversity of leadership


This week the House will consider a bill designed to bring what supporters say will be more accountability and transparency to a government entity that holds private businesses accountable.

On Thursday, the House will consider H.R. 3193, the Consumer Financial Freedom and Washington Accountability Act, sponsored by House Financial Services Committee member Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisc.

The bill targets the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for what supporters say are much-needed reforms.

Congressional aides who spoke to HousingWire said they expect the bill will pass the House but it faces an uphill slog in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“These are modest, common-sense reforms that bring a modicum of accountability and transparency to the CFPB. We know that this is an agency that was designed to be unique, if not perhaps rogue; it is an agency like no other. Arguably it is the single most powerful and least accountable Federal agency in the history of our nation and thus demands rigorous oversight. The American people deserve better,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

“They now have witnessed a failed stimulus plan, trillions of dollars of unsustainable debt… revelations of NSA domestic data collection and a broken promise of ‘if you like your health insurance, you can keep it.’ The American people rightfully demand accountability from this administration, and H.R. 3193 is a step in the right direction,” Hensarling said.

The CFPB has come under fire for its plans to spend $145 million on office renovations for a building it does not even own, for example. The Federal Reserve inspector general launched an investigation into why renovation costs for the CFPB’s headquarters have soared to more than three times the original estimate.

The bill the House will consider replaces the single CFPB Director Richard Cordray with a five-member Commission appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Supporters say this would ensure that a diversity of viewpoints inform the CFPB’s regulatory and enforcement agenda. It would also conform the bureau’s governance to that of other federal agencies charged with consumer or investor protection, they say.

The bill further subjects the CFPB to the regular appropriations process and makes the CFPB a stand-alone independent agency rather than a bureau within the Federal Reserve System.

It also prohibits the CFPB from using a consumer’s private, personal financial information without the consumer’s knowledge and consent. The CFPB is currently moving forward with a massive, multi-million dollar data collection effort of consumers’ financial information, along with the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Look to HousingWire for live vote coverage on Thursday.


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