Industry groups back commission, congressional budget oversight for consumer bureau

Changing its governance to a commission rather than a single director, and giving Congress control over its budget, were two recommendations business and banking groups had for increasing the transparency and accountability of the federal consumer financial protection agency, during testimony Wednesday.

In a hearing before the House financial institutions subcommittee, witnesses from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) offered the recommendations as ways for improving transparency and accountability for the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP, formerly known as the CFPB).

“A bipartisan, Senate confirmed commission would increase accountability and transparency at the bureau,” Richard Hunt, president and CEO of the CBA told the committee. Citing legislation that would do just that (H.R. 5266, the “Financial Product Safety Commission Act”), Hunt urged quick passage. “We urge the committee to quickly pass this bipartisan legislation to bring much needed stability, accountability, and certainty for consumers and industry stakeholders,” he said.

Kate Prochaska of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce echoed Hunt’s recommendation. “A commission structure would mitigate the pendulum swing from one director to the next, and create more certainty for industry and better outcomes for consumers,” she said. “Acting Director Mulvaney has repeatedly stated he has too much power – Congress must finally remedy this by passing legislation instituting a bipartisan commission structure for the Bureau.”

Prochaska (who is the director of the Chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness) also recommended giving Congress control over the agency’s budget through the appropriations process. “We have long supported putting the bureau under true congressional oversight, which is the practice at the majority of federal agencies,” she said.

Testimony, Richard Hunt, Consumer Bankers Association (CBA)

Testimony, Kate (Larson) Prochaska, U.S. Chamber of Commerce