On arbitration rule repeal, White House mum – acting comptroller chatty

The White House issued no statement in conjunction with President Donald Trump Wednesday signing the repeal of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) “arbitration rule” – but the acting comptroller of the currency had plenty to say.

Trump signed H.R. 111, the repeal of the CFPB rule (which would have blocked “arbitration agreements” and allowed consumers to join in class actions over disputes about financial products), passed by the Senate last week, 51-50, under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The House has approved the resolution earlier this year.

The White House, however, issued no statement to accompany the president’s action, unusual for such a high-profile action – particularly following a personal appeal by CFPB Director Richard Cordray earlier in the week to the president, urging Trump to veto the legislation.

“I think you really don’t like to see American families, including veterans and service members, get cheated out of their hard-earned money and be left helpless to fight back,” Cordray wrote. “I know that some have made elaborate arguments to pretend like that is not what is happening, ” he wrote. “But you are a smart man, and I think we both know what is really happening here.”

But unlike the White House, Acting Comptroller Keith Noreika – who publicly challenged the CFPB’s data supporting the promulgation of the rule, and engaged in a public back and forth with Cordray about the regulation – had plenty to say. He issued a statement saying he applauded Congress and the president for vacating the rule.

“The rule would have harmed consumers even as it provided no benefit in deterring bank misbehavior or preventing customer abuse,” Noreika said, noting that the regulation likely would have significantly increased the cost of credit for hardworking Americans and “taken away a valuable tool for resolving differences among banks and their customers.”

Noreika said that by signing the bill, Trump protected consumers and small and midsize banks by “repealing a rule that would have cost millions, paved a path to expensive frivolous lawsuits, and lined the pockets of trial lawyers.”

“The action today preserves a choice for consumers who can choose among financial providers that offer services with arbitration clauses and those that do not,” he added.

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Issues Statement following the President’s Signature Overturning the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Rule on Arbitration Agreements