May 17, 2023

ICYMI: Brown Speaks to Consumer Federation of America on Attempts to Undercut CFPB Authority.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In Case You Missed It: Senator Brown (D-OH), Chairman of the Senator Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, spoke at the Consumer Federation of America’s 57th Annual Consumer Assembly. In his address, Brown spoke about the need to protect the Consumer Financial Protect Bureau (CFPB) from Republican attempts to undercut its authority. Brown also highlighted an amicus brief he filed with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA43), Ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, and 142 current and former members to the Supreme Court supporting the CFPB in the case of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association of America challenges the constitutionality of the CFPB’s funding structure and undercuts the agency’s important regulatory authority to protect consumers.

Sen. Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

Thank you to Susan Weinstock, CEO of CFA; The hotel staff; All of you attending the 57th annual Consumer Assembly

So many Americans aren’t involved in the political process – they have to work too hard at jobs that don’t pay off the way they should. And politicians of both parties have written them off, haven’t engaged with them.

My job is to fight for them, and find ways to talk to everyone.

You all know how hard it is to do anything in this town that stands up to corporate power.

It took 10 million Americans losing their homes and nearly 9 million Americans losing their jobs for us to establish the CFPB – the first agency solely dedicated to looking out for consumers.

You all know how Wall Street and corporate lobbyists, and the politicians who always do their bidding, fought us every step of the way.

And they didn’t give up – they went to work.

They’ve tried every tactic to gut the CFPB: They hauled CFPB staff, including Directors, to testify before Congress 87 times; They tried to cut its funding; They tried to take away the effective single director structure; and They tried to dismantle it from the inside under Mick Mulvaney and Kathy Kraninger

None of that worked, at least not permanently.

Under Director Chopra, the CFPB is back to doing its job – protecting people’s paychecks and savings, standing up to the payday lenders and the credit card companies and the scammers.

It's getting people their money back.

But the corporate crowd never gives up. Now they’re trying to use extreme judges to get rid of the CFPB.

Last year’s Fifth Circuit ruling is far, far outside the mainstream – they’re saying the CFPB's funding authority violates the Constitution's Appropriations Clause and the separation of powers.

This is, frankly, crazy.

For more than two centuries, Congress has used—and the courts have recognized—a variety of different ways to fund agencies and programs.

It’s a half-baked, bad-faith legal ploy to do through the courts what corporate lobbyists couldn’t get done any other way: get the CFPB off their back.

And if it works, there’s going to be collateral damage.

Wall Street is putting the other financial regulators in danger, too.

The Fifth Circuit’s faulty ruling claims that the CFPB possesses more power in the economy than the Fed or FDIC.

That’s ridiculous.

Look at the extraordinary steps the Fed and FDIC took to contain the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. The idea that the CFPB could do anything close to that is laughable.

But if the ruling stands, their funding and authority to do their jobs will be at risk too. The FDIC’s own Inspector General has stated that the Fifth Circuit ruling could be applied to the FDIC. 

This case could damage these vital agencies and our whole economy. Today, it’s the CFPB. Tomorrow it’s the FDIC, the Postal Service, and the Federal Reserve.

Imagine if politicians caused a government shutdown and we were without a Federal Reserve to provide emergency liquidity.

Or think about the SVB and Signature Bank failures – the Fed and FDIC were able to prevent a crisis and protect small businesses.

Imagine what might happen if another series of banks failed, and the FDIC did not have the Deposit Insurance Fund to stop the crisis from spreading or protect depositors’ money.

Again and again, Wall Street expects the government to spring into action when businesses’ risk their own money. But when workers are scammed out of their paychecks, that’s not an emergency — it’s business as usual.

That’s the crux of this problem: the CFPB’s funding structure isn’t unconstitutional — it just doesn’t work in Wall Street’s favor.

We know what’s at stake here.

That’s why, earlier this week, I filed an amicus brief with Ranking Member Waters defending the CFPB.

142 current and former Members of Congress joined us in defending the independent funding structure that makes so much important work possible—which the courts also agreed with until last year.

We know what all this is really about.

The people pushing this case don’t know or care whether the CFPB’s funding model is constitutional.

The only reason that Wall Street, its Republican allies in Congress, and overreaching courts have singled out the CFPB is because the agency doesn’t do their bidding.

The CFPB doesn’t help Wall Street executives when they fail.

It doesn’t extend them credit in favorable terms, or offer them deposit insurance like the other regulators do.

And that’s why the CFPB is so important. It’s job is to fight for all the Americans who have no other way to stand up to powerful corporations.

It’s returned $16 billion to more than 192 million Americans. It’s held Wall Street and big banks accountable for breaking the law and scamming people.

It’s given working families more power to fight back when banks and shady lenders scam them out of their hard-earned money.

No other agency fights for consumers – or stands up to corporate power – like the CFPB does. 

Most Americans don’t have high-priced lawyers. They don’t have corporate lobbyists. But they have the CFPB – and they have all of you.

CFA has more than 50 years of experience standing up on behalf of the American people and standing up to corporate power.

Thank you for your work to overturn the disastrous Trump “Fake Lender” rule which would have allowed predatory lenders to evade state interest rate caps and charge consumers outrageous interest on payday and other loans.

Thank you for your work to ensure consumers are no longer caught in debt traps by advocating for 36 percent rate cap legislation and end all payday and predatory loans.

Thank you for fighting to end forced arbitration and returning power to consumers away from corporations, no longer allowing corporations to hide their wrongdoing and avoid accountability.

Thank you for fighting against medical debt which punishes Americans for accidents or falling sick.

But most of all thank you for protecting the CFPB, the only agency that fights for consumers like you.

Because of Americans like you, those who take on Wall Street goliaths and fight against economic injustice, we have hope of creating an economy that works for everyone, not just corporate interests.

Together we will never stop fighting to protect consumers, and the agency that stands up for them.