‘Consumers First Act,’ a topic of Thursday’s CFPB oversight hearing, would reverse Mulvaney actions

Bill would stress consumer focus and diversity, reinstate advisory board members

A discussion draft of legislation that would reverse Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) actions carried out under the direction of “acting” director John (“Mick”) Mulvaney with respect to the bureau’s staffing, funding, operations, supervision, advisory councils, and more is slated for discussion during Thursday’s oversight hearing by the House Financial Services Committee.

The draft bill, created by panel Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and cosponsored by 28 committee members, expresses the “sense of the Congress” that the bureau “should meet its statutory purpose in a transparent and accountable manner by operating in a way that is consistent with both the spirit and plain letter of the law.” It says the agency’s mandate should also be apparent by its name, referring to Mulvaney’s decision to change the agency’s name to “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection” as an apparent effort to deemphasize the bureau’s “core mandate” to enforce federal consumer financial law.

Titled the “Consumers First Act,” the draft bill, 40 pages long, offers a point-by-point repudiation of actions taken by the bureau at Mulvaney’s direction, in areas such as fair lending enforcement, the publicly available consumer complaint database, pending legal actions against payday lenders, focus on rules’ impact on providers vs. consumers, and more.

The draft also sets stricter parameters for the appointment of members to the Consumer Advisory Board (CAB), which Mulvaney disbanded along with the Community Bank Advisory Councl (CBAC) and Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC) early last year, only to reconstitute each later with six members each.

The “Consumers First Act” draft requires the CFPB director to appoint no fewer than 25 members to CAB – with six of the board’s members, as provided before, selected at the recommendation of the Federal Reserve Bank presidents. Everyone who was on CAB as of Nov. 1, 2017, would be able to return and continue serving through March 27, 2020, along with all those on the board as of the date of the bill’s enactment; the director would be prohibited from removing any member without cause.

The measure would require that at least two-thirds of CAB members, and one-third of the members of any other advisory councils, represent consumers’ interests. The director would also be required to promote diversity on the councils by appointing individuals representing minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

“Consumers First Act” discussion draft