Proposed CFPB structure, mission changes belong to acting director – not Trump, other agencies – Mulvaney tells committee

Significant changes to the structure and mission of the federal consumer financial protection agency recommended by the agency’s acting director in House testimony Wednesday are his and not those of the White House or any other federal agency, he said in his written remarks.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Acting Director Mick Mulvaney told the House Financial Services Committee in his written testimony that he recommends four legislative changes to the agency’s mission, in order to “establish meaningful accountability for the Bureau.”

The changes are:

  • Fund the bureau through congressional appropriations;
  • Require affirmative legislative approval of major bureau rules;
  • Ensure that the director answers to the president in the exercise of executive authority; and
  • Create an independent inspector general for the bureau.

However, Mulvaney made it clear that the recommendations are his, and not those of President Donald Trump or any other agency.

“Other than the Bureau’s Acting Director, no other officer or agency of the United States approved these legislative recommendations prior to submission to Congress,” Mulvaney stated in a footnote to his testimony. “The views contained herein are those of the Acting Director and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System or the President of the United States.”

Also in his written testimony, Mulvaney:

  • Outlined “new strategic priorities” for the bureau, which he said “are to recognize free markets and consumer choice and to take a prudent, consistent, and humble approach to enforcing the law.” He said that approach “reflects my understanding that consumers and creditors alike gain from mutual exchange, provided that promises are kept, terms are clearly disclosed, and property rights are protected.
  • Said his “call for evidence” through “requests for information” (RFIs) are aimed at gathering public feedback on the wide range of work done by this agency. “It is important to learn more about what is working and what needs to improve in the work done by the Bureau,” Mulvaney told the committee. “An agency that is confident in its mission should care about getting it right. An agency should welcome constructive feedback and then learn from it.” The agency issued its 12th, and last, RFI also on Wednesday (on consumer complaints and inquiries).
  • Promised to be “very judicious” in the use of rulemaking power, and committed to “making sure the Bureau’s regulations work not only for those who use consumer financial products and services but also for those who provide them.” He said that means clear rules that can be tailored to the business models of the companies regulated. “For instance, the Bureau is here to help protect people who use credit, but we’re also here to establish clear guidelines for those who provide that credit because it is an important service for consumers and central to our capitalist system.”
  • Outlined changes in the reporting structure for the agency, in an effort to “reduce redundancy” and conserve resources. “For example, the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity is being moved to the Director’s Office, to become part of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Fairness. The Office of Fair Lending will continue to focus on advocacy, coordination, and education.” He also vowed to continue to enforce fair lending laws, but will reorganize the offices overseeing that. He said the current fair lending supervision and enforcement functions will remain in the soon-to-be-renamed Division of Supervision, Enforcement, and Fair Lending.

Through these changes, Mulvaney said “the Bureau will have one office, not two, that handles enforcement matters. It will have one office, not two, that handles supervision policy, and one office, not two, that handles supervision examinations. This will make enforcement and supervision more efficient, effective, and accountable.”

Written Testimony of Mick Mulvaney, Acting Director, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, Before the House Committee on Financial Services