The semiannual testimonial tussle on Wednesday between Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Richard Cordray and members of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee spanned more than four hours as the regulator’s director traded arguments back and forth about the agency’s activities and more.
Chairman Jeb Hensarling didn’t hesitate to set the tone for the day during his opening statement, which included the Texas Republican saying, “For conducting unlawful activities, abusing his authority and denying market participants due process, Richard Cordray should be dismissed by our president.
“Not only must Mr. Cordray go, but this current CFPB must go as well,” Hensarling continued. “American consumers need competitive markets and a ‘cop on the beat’ to protect them from fraud and deception. They don’t need Washington elites trampling on their freedom of choice and picking their financial products for them.
“Today, Mr. Cordray and his CFPB don’t just act as a cop on the beat, they act as legislator, prosecutor, judge and jury all rolled into one,” Hensarling went on to say. “The CFPB represents the summit of unelected, unaccountable and unconstitutional agency government. It represents a dagger aimed at the heart of our foundational principles, namely co-equal branches of government, checks and balances, due process and justice for all.
“Clearly you can be a Democrat — upper case D — and believe in the CFPB, but you cannot be a democrat — lower case D — and believe in this institution,” he added.
Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat from California and ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, quickly came to the CFPB’s defense again.
“Despite what you will hear from Republicans, the leadership structure of the Consumer Bureau is not unique; in fact there are other federal regulatory agencies with similar structures,” Waters said. “But these facts haven’t stopped Republicans and some in the industry from making legal challenges to its structure.
“I reject these misguided attacks on the Consumer Bureau, and I will continue to stand up for the hardworking American consumers that the agency defends every day. The Consumer Bureau is an invaluable ally to consumers, and its work must continue,” she went on to say.
Cordray didn’t back down during his latest appearance on Capitol Hill. He defended the CFPB’s moves, including enforcement actions against companies such as Wells Fargo as well as to “clean up the problems” associated with credit reporting.
“Those who talk about weakening the Consumer Bureau are missing the importance of the work we are doing to stand up for individuals and families all over this country,” Cordray said during his opening statement. “Nobody should want to return to a system that failed us and produced a financial crisis that damaged so many lives.”
The entire hearing can be viewed here or via the window at the top of this page.