Democrats say fight over acting director of CFPB isn’t over

Still claim Leandra English is lawful director

The Democratic Party continues to push back against President Donald Trump’s pick for acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, saying the fight isn’t over yet.

This past weekend, the CFPB erupted into chaos as two leaders showed up to the office as acting director – and no one knew who to follow.

Former CFPB Director Richard Cordray appointed Leandra English to serve as acting director to “ensure a smooth transition,” after he resigned earlier than anyone expected.

But Trump didn’t agree with Cordray’s pick, or his right to choose anyone to replace himself, and nominated 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 just hours later.

Tuesday, a federal judge sided with Trump, handing control over to Mulvaney as the acting director until the Senate confirms a permanent CFPB director.

But Democrats are standing together, saying the fight is still not over.

“This is just the beginning of what will likely be a long legal battle,” Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said. “While the temporary restraining order has been denied, the merits of the case have yet to be decided.”

“The Dodd-Frank statute is clear that the Deputy Director of the Consumer Bureau shall serve as Acting Director in the absence or unavailability of the Director,” Waters said. “Leandra English, the Consumer Bureau’s Deputy Director, is the lawful Acting Director and she should be allowed to serve in that capacity until a Director is confirmed by the Senate.”

On Wednesday, Waters and 25 other Democratic members filed an amicus brief “in support of Acting CFPB Director Leandra English.” They filed the brief with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing English should serve as acting director until the Senate confirmed someone else.

“President Trump is entitled to choose who the next Director of the Bureau will be, but he must nominate that person, and the Senate must agree to confirm him or her,” the Congress members wrote. “Until that happens, Dodd-Frank makes clear who should be running the Bureau: its Deputy Director.”

The 25 current and former members of Congress who signed the brief with Waters included:

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., Rep Bill Foster, D-Ill., Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., Rep Juan Vargas, D-Calif., Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

On Tuesday, a group of protestors including Warren, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and the Progressive Campaign Change Committee rallied ouside the CFPB during lunch to demand Mulvaney step aside and allow English to “do her job.”

Signs included wording such as, “Trump & Mulvaney: Breaking the law to help Wall Street.”

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a resounding success and overwhelmingly popular with voters in blue, red, and purple districts,” PCCC campaigner Maria Langholz said. “That's why Trump is trying to undermine the CFPB by breaking the rules to install a guy who is wholly unfit for the office and has numerous conflicts of interest. PCCC members will be taking the fight to Trump and Mulvaney today.”

However, the Trump administration argues, and the federal judge and even lawyers agreed, it is the president’s right to appoint an acting director.

Global law firm Mayer Brown, the 15th largest firm in the U.S., pointed out there is another law which overrides Dodd-Frank:

“But another federal law also addresses authority to fill vacant positions on a temporary basis—the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, enacted by Congress in 1998. As the Supreme Court explained in a recent decision, this statute sets limits on the appointment of individuals on an acting basis—because Congress perceived a threat to the Senate’s advice-and-consent power from the large number of individuals serving in a temporary capacity in offices for which permanent appointments would be subject to Senate confirmation.”

For now, Mulvaney remains in charge of the CFPB and as his first acts as director, he enacted a freeze on new regulations and hiring, an act Trump previously issued with other government bureaus. Democrats were not happy with this action.

“Regarding Mick Mulvaney’s illegal move to freeze hiring and new regulations at the Consumer Bureau, let’s be clear: any move to freeze the activities of the Consumer Bureau is a move to hurt consumers, prevent victims of fraud from receiving compensation, and help cover for abusive financial institutions that rip off consumers,” Waters said. “Mr. Mulvaney is not the legitimate Acting Director of the Consumer Bureau, and he does not have the legitimate authority to constrain its important work.”

One expert pointed out that as much as Democrats work against Trump’s pick for CFPB acting director now, the president will have the final say over who leads the bureau.

“However, regardless of this week's political noise over the CFPB, we think investors should remember that the Trump administration will eventually nominate someone to be the full-time director,” a Keefe, Bruyette & Woods report prepared by analysts Brian Gardner and Michael Michaud stated. “That person is likely to be in office within the next few months.”

The CFPB did not respond to HousingWire’s request for comment.

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