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Housing industry’s largest trade groups want CFPB director replaced by bipartisan commission

MBA, NAR, ALTA, ABA, NAFCU, others ask Congress for changes to CFPB

More than 20 of the housing industry’s largest trade groups are calling on Congress to enact legislation that would change the leadership structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from a single director to a bipartisan commission.

The CFPB’s concentration of power at the director position has long been a source of contention for the opponents of the CFPB.

Recently, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Republican-crafted Financial CHOICE Act, which would abolish the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Dodd-Frank created the CFPB and established how the bureau would be structured.

The version of the Financial CHOICE Act that passed in the House would change the structure of the CFPB to make the director fireable at will by the president, rather than for cause only, as it stands now.

The original version of the Financial CHOICE Act called for a change to the CFPB’s structure that would end the single director and change it into a bipartisan independent Commission serving staggered terms, but that stipulation didn’t make it into the updated Financial CHOICE Act.

And while the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., went on record saying the bill is “dead on arrival in the Senate and has no chance of becoming law,” that’s not stopping the housing industry from pushing for a big change to the CFPB.

In a letter sent Thursday to the leadership of the appropriations committees in both the House and Senate, the groups ask for Congress to pursue legislation that would allow a bipartisan commission to run the CFPB.

“The undersigned trade associations representing thousands of banks, credit unions, financial institutions, and businesses of all sizes that serve America’s consumers write to express our strong support for the inclusion in the Senate and House Financial Services & General Government Subcommittee FY2018 bills, language that would transition the governance structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to a five person bipartisan commission,” the letter begins.

The letter is signed by the following organizations: ACA International, the American Bankers Association, 
the American Escrow Association, the American Financial Services Association,
 the American Land Title Association,
 Community Mortgage Lenders of America, 
the Consumer Bankers Association, 
the Consumer Data Industry Association,
 the Consumer Mortgage Coalition, 
the Credit Union National Association, 
Electronic Funds Transfer Associations, 
the Electronic Transactions Association, 
the Financial Services Roundtable,
 the Independent Community Bankers of America, the Mortgage Bankers Association, 
the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, the National Association of Realtors, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, 
the National Federation of Independent Business,
 the Real Estate Services Providers Council, Inc., the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and The Realty Alliance.

The groups write that a Senate confirmed, bipartisan commission leading the CFPB will “provide a balanced and deliberative approach to supervision, regulation, and enforcement for consumers and the financial institutions the CFPB oversees by encouraging input from all stakeholders.”

The groups stated that the CFPB’s current structure “leads to regulatory uncertainty and instability for consumers, industry, and the economy, leaving vital consumer financial protection subject to dramatic political shifts with each changing presidential administration.”

Additionally, the groups say that having the CFPB led by bipartisan commission would make the agency’s structure more like other financial regulators, like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve System.

The groups also cite a recent poll that states that 58% of registered voters in battleground states believe that the CFPB should be led by a commission rather than a single director.

It should be noted that the poll was commissioned by three of the groups that sent the letter, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America, and the American Land Title Association.

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