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Grassroots military organizations ask Congress to save the CFPB

VoteVets, Common Defense say that CFPB protects servicemembers

As the Financial CHOICE Act winds its way through the House of Representatives, two grassroots organizations that represent current and former members of the military are asking the members of Congress to leave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alone and allow the bureau to continue functioning as it does now.

The Financial CHOICE Act is the Republican-crafted replacement for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and the bill would significantly change the way that the CFPB functions. For more on how the bill would change the CFPB, click here.

As the bill moves through Congress, VoteVets and Common Defense are asking leaders of both parties to preserve the CFPB.

In a letter sent to Sens. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, the chair and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; and Reps. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the chair and ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services, the groups say that the CFPB helps protect veterans and military families.

“The undersigned grassroots organizations representing U.S. veterans and military family members write to express our support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its critical work addressing challenges faced by Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard personnel as well as for military retirees, veterans, and their families,” the groups write.

“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of servicemembers our groups represent, we urge you to resist any proposals that would limit or weaken the CFPB’s ability to work on behalf of military families through changes to its structure, leadership, funding stream, or authority,” they continue.

The groups note the Office of Servicemembers Affairs within the CFPB and the work that the agency has done on behalf of servicemembers in the past few years, including four 2015 enforcement actions that focused on servicemembers and resulted in more than $5 million in refunds and other relief.

“As one of the agencies with enforcement authority for Military Lending Act protections – which include caps on interest and add-on fees at 36% for loans issued to servicemembers and their dependents – any attempt to weaken CFPB enforcement authority directly threatens the financial livelihoods of military families,” the groups write.

The groups also note the number of complaints the CFPB receives from servicemembers and the impact of those complaints.

“Servicemembers and veterans have submitted 70,000 complaints to the CFPB. As with civilian complaints, the Bureau sends this information to the servicemember’s bank or lender for a response within 15 days,” the groups write. “The complaint system has been immensely helpful in resolving individual disputes, resulting in significant monetary relief for military families.”

The groups also cite the CFPB’s push to increase consumer protections against abusive debt collection practices.

“Nearly half of the complaints filed from servicemembers in 2015 concerned debt collection,” the groups write. “That same year, servicemembers were nearly twice as likely to submit debt collection complaints as civilians.”

The groups conclude by asking the Congressional leaders to leave the CFPB untouched.

“The CFPB and OSA work to protect, assist, and educate servicemembers in the financial sphere. This work is crucial not only to ensure that servicemembers have free and equal access to financial products and services, but also to support personnel readiness and military resources,” the groups write.

“For all of these reasons, VoteVets and Common Defense urge you to support and defend the CFPB, and to oppose any proposals that would weaken it, including by changing its structure, leadership, funding stream, or authority – so that this agency can continue to stand up for our nations servicemembers, veterans, and military families,” the groups conclude.

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