April 23, 2013


WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) held a hearing on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Semi-Annual Report to Congress. The Committee heard from CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
Below is Chairman Johnson’s statement as prepared for delivery:
“Good morning.  I call this hearing to order.
“We have reviewed the CFPB’s Semi-Annual Report and are here today to conduct regular oversight of the CFPB.  This includes making sure that the agency continues to fulfill its mission of protecting consumers and empowering them to make responsible financial decisions, promoting fair competition in industry, and ensuring full access to financial services for all Americans.
“Director Cordray, welcome back to the Committee. I know you share my commitment to transparency and accountability.  In fact, this is the 32nd time that a CFPB official has appeared before Congress in just over 2 years, and your 13th appearance.  Rightly so, your agency’s outreach and engagement with both consumers and industry representatives has been widely praised. 
“The CFPB has made significant progress in protecting consumers, including students, servicemembers, and older Americans. For example, the CFPB has developed a number of tools related to student lending, including the ‘Financial Aid Shopping Sheet,’ that will help students make the best choices as they pursue their dreams.  And since the CFPB opened its doors, it has obtained $425 million of consumer refunds – that is $425 million back into the hands of harmed consumers and back into the economy.
“Earlier this year, the CFPB finalized rules to strengthen mortgage standards.  This includes the Ability to Repay provision, which requires lenders to make a good faith effort to determine whether a borrower can make his or her payments. These rules have been generally well-received by consumer and industry groups alike, and I applaud the care the CFPB undertook in writing these rules.  However, we must ensure that these rules do not have adverse impacts on lending in underserved areas, including rural areas.  I look forward to hearing from Director Cordray on how this rule will impact rural lending, which is an important issue for many in South Dakota.
“Finally, Director Cordray, you have made comments about reducing regulatory burden on community banks and credit unions.  I continue to be interested in your plans to make sure that rules strike the right balance, protecting consumers while addressing legitimate concerns smaller institutions may have.
“Director Cordray, you have proven day-in and day-out that you are well qualified for your position.  Even my colleagues across the aisle concede this point.  I hope we can provide the market the certainty it needs and consumers the cop on the beat they deserve by confirming you quickly.  Thank you for your service, and I look forward to our ongoing work with you.  With that, I turn to Ranking Member Crapo.”