Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: CFPB thrown into disarray with 2 acting directors

Trump vows to revive bureau

Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news coming across HousingWire’s weekend desk, with more coverage to come on larger issues.

Over the long weekend, as you were eating Thanksgiving dinner and standing in long lines for Black Friday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau erupted into chaos as two leaders are now appointed as acting director – and no one knows who to follow.

Previously, CFPB Director Richard Cordray announced in an email to the bureau’s staff that he will be stepping down from his position before the end of the month. When Cordray made his announcement, many, though not all, within the housing industry rejoiced, saying this meant a step in the right direction.

Others, including the Mortgage Bankers Association, congratulated Cordray for his successful tenure, and expressed its excitement to work with the bureau’s next director.

Friday, Cordray announced he would leave the bureau for good by the end of the day, instead of the end of the month. He then promoted his chief of staff Leandra English as deputy director, according to an article by Renae Merle for The Washington Post.

Cordray sent a letter to CFPB staff, explaining English would serve as the agency’s acting director until the Senate confirmed a replacement, the article states.

From the article:

“I have also come to recognize that appointing the current chief of staff to the deputy director position would minimize operational disruption and provide for a smooth transition given her operational expertise,” Cordray said in his letter. The move was widely seen by analysts as an attempt to block Trump from immediately putting a Republican in charge of the agency without Senate confirmation.

Then chaos erupted: Hours later, President Donald Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, who currently serves as director of the Office of Management and Budget and has long been outspoken about his dislike for the CFPB, as the acting director.

“The President looks forward to seeing Director Mulvaney take a common-sense approach to leading the CFPB’s dedicated staff, an approach that will empower consumers to make their own financial decisions and facilitate investment in our communities,” a White House statement said.

But now, no one knows who to follow.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted out this, to back of Trump’s right to choose the acting director.

The Office of Legal Counsel supported Trump’s right to appoint the acting director.

“The CFPB Director is an office filed by presidential appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,” the office wrote in a letter to the president.

More from the letter:

“The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 provides the President with authority ‘for temporarily authorizing an acting official to perform the functions and duties’ of an officer of an Executive agency whose appointment ‘is required to be made by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,’ and is the ‘exclusive means’ for authorizing acting service ‘unless’ another statute expressly designates an officer to serve in an acting capacity or provides alternative means for a designation an acting officer.”

However, Democrats disagree, saying Cordray’s pick should be allowed to remain until the Senate confirms the Bureau’s next director.

“Richard Cordray appointed Leandra English as Deputy Director of the Consumer Bureau to ensure a smooth transition and operational stability at the agency,” Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said. “Ms. English should be allowed to serve as Acting Director until a Director is confirmed by the full Senate, consistent with the process articulated in the law that created the Consumer Bureau.”

“Mick Mulvaney is an unacceptable candidate to lead the Consumer Bureau,” Waters continued. “As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Mr. Mulvaney called the Consumer Bureau a ‘joke.’ He was also the original cosponsor of a bill to completely eliminate the Consumer Bureau, and supported other legislation to harmfully roll back Wall Street reform.”

Trump announced he intends to bring the CFPB back to life, saying it was a “total disaster” under Cordray.

In other news from Washington, the Federal Communications Commission released a plan early last week to repeal net neutrality regulations, which prevents internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content.

The proposal would repeal rules set by the Obama administration, and some argue would harm small companies.

An article by Cecilia Kang for The New York Times shows even some of the internet’s big players, such as Facebook, are against the proposed repeal.

From the article:

“We are disappointed that the proposal announced today by the F.C.C. fails to maintain the strong net neutrality protections that will ensure the internet remains open for everyone,” Erin Egan, a vice president at Facebook, said in a statement. “We will work with all stakeholders committed to this principle.”

Over the weekend, Zillow Group took a stand on the issue, saying it could harm small businesses including many of the group’s real estate partners.

That’s the biggest news from this weekend. Keep reading HousingWire throughout the week as you polish off your Thanksgiving leftovers and shop for Cyber Monday sales – we’ll keep you up to date with everything you need to know in housing. Have a great week!

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