BCFP to reexamine ECOA requirements, confer with Congress on other guidance docs meriting review

Soon after the president signed a congressional resolution to overturn the bureau’s 2013 guidance for indirect auto lenders, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) issued a release Monday not only lauding that action but announcing a coming reexamination of Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) requirements and a look at what other “guidance” documents of the bureau merit congressional review.

The bureau’s statement on the ECOA and other future reviews begins with the seventh paragraph of an eight-paragraph release in which bureau Acting Director Mick Mulvaney also praises the president’s signing of S.J.Res. 57, which overturns guidance provided in a March 2013 bulletin on indirect auto lenders’ compliance with federal fair lending requirements, including those set under ECOA.

“Given a recent Supreme Court decision distinguishing between antidiscrimination statutes that refer to the consequences of actions and those that refer only to the intent of the actor, and in light of the fact that the Bureau is required by statute to enforce federal consumer financial laws consistently, the Bureau will be reexamining the requirements of the ECOA,” the bureau’s release states.

Congress passed S.J.Res. 57 to exercise its authority to overturn rules as provided under the CRA. The resolution followed a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that said the guidance in the bureau’s 2013 bulletin constituted a rule.

In its release, the bureau said Monday’s action “also clarifies that a number of Bureau guidance documents may be considered rules for purposes of the CRA, and therefore the Bureau must submit them for review by Congress. The Bureau welcomes such review, and will confer with Congressional staff and federal agency partners to identify appropriate documents for submission.”

The statement regarding ECOA drew praise from House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). “This announcement by the Bureau is yet another example of the outstanding efforts Acting Director Mulvaney is taking to restore the Bureau to its proper role of vigorously policing our consumer credit markets for fraud and deception. It is the Bureau’s job to enforce law, not make it. That is Congress’s job,” he stated.

The committee release points to the bureau’s focus specifically on “whether disparate impact liability is within the jurisdiction” of the ECOA.

Statement by BCFP on Signing of S.J.Res. 57

Hensarling Applauds Bureau’s Plan to Examine ECOA