Waters makes clear former CFPB acting director’s accountability ‘about to begin’

The former acting director of the federal consumer financial protection agency may have moved on to become acting White House Chief of Staff, but his actions at the agency are squarely in the crosshairs of Congress, the new chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee said Wednesday.

“I have written to Mick Mulvaney that while his time at the bureau may be over, the time for accountability for his actions is about to begin,” Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said in a speech to the Center for American Progress.

“This Congress will be working diligently to undo the damage that Mulvaney has wrought during his time at the consumer bureau,” Waters told the group. “I have a bill, the Consumers First Act, that reverses many of the known, harmful acts, which I will soon be reintroducing.”

Waters also indicated that the former acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) would not be the only financial institution regulator coming under scrutiny during her time as chairman of the committee, which has oversight of the agencies. “I will be keeping a watchful eye on all of the financial regulators to make sure they are carrying out their statutory duties – including holding bad actors accountable and promoting financial stability,” Waters said.

The chair of the House committee charged that congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump have been “determined to undermine and destroy the bureau,” with former Acting Director Mulvaney making it “a priority to dismantle the bureau from within.”

Waters had a more tentative tone to current Director Kathleen (“Kathy”) Kraninger, who was installed as Mulvaney’s successor at the bureau last month. “We’ll see what she does,” Waters said.

In other comments, the new committee chairwoman said the Financial Services Committee will be paying close attention to whether financial regulators are attempting to weaken important reforms of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law by holding numerous hearings.

She also said regulators need to assess the “evolving financial marketplace appropriately.” She pointed to growth of financial technology (fintech), noting it is important to encourage financial innovation, but with appropriate safeguards “to protect our customers and consumers without displacing community banks and credit unions.”

“I have great hope that fintech firms can open up financial opportunities to those who have been discluded from access to responsible credit,” she said. “But I strongly believe that there must to be strong protections from consumers of these financial products and that abusive payday lending practices must not be allowed.”

She said the committee, under her watch, will be closely examining these issues to ensure that regulators eliminate the risk and meet the opportunities.

Waters Outlines Agenda in First Policy Speech as Committee Chairwoman (speech text, as prepared)