September 30, 2021

Toomey: Chopra Would Return CFPB to Lawless, Overreaching, Highly Politicized Agency

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate today to express his opposition to the nomination of Rohit Chopra for Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

In July, all Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee sent a letter criticizing Chopra for his refusal to respond to a congressional request seeking information about an alleged purge of civil servants at the CFPB. The members stated that Chopra’s refusal was disqualifying from consideration as CFPB Director.

Ranking Member Toomey’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise to oppose the nomination of FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra to be CFPB Director. In the Banking Committee, all Republicans voted against him. And on the Senate floor, Republicans uniformly voted against discharging his nomination from Committee.

I have grave concerns that Commissioner Chopra would return the CFPB to the lawless, overreaching, highly politicized agency it was during the Obama administration. The CFPB was created by Democrats through the Dodd-Frank Act as arguably the most unaccountable agency in the history of the federal government. It’s an agency with a single-director, who—until recently—the president was unconstitutionally forbidden from removing. And it’s not accountable to Congress through the appropriations process—instead it simply draws virtually unlimited funding from the Fed.

Under President Obama, the CFPB pursued an activist anti-business agenda that limited consumer choice, drove up the cost of credit, and unfairly burdened employers with overregulation. CFPB repeatedly engaged in overreach and abuse of its authorities.

Just one example: Instead of clearly laying out the rules of the road through a transparent process, it invented new rules by springing lawsuits on financial institutions that had no way of knowing what they were. The D.C. Circuit held that this approach violated the bedrock principles of due process.

Commissioner Chopra helped set up the CFPB and then served as a top official there during the Obama administration. In that role, he reportedly had a hostile relationship with lenders and used “name and shame” tactics to pressure them. In one case, he took a “shoot first, aim second” approach to the facts by posting online inaccurate allegations about credit unions, which CFPB had to retract.

At the FTC, Commissioner Chopra has continued to take aggressive anti-business stances. And he’s continued to take a “shoot first, aim later” approach to the facts in order to advance his agenda. In one case, three of his fellow Commissioners publicly rebuked his dissent in the case for its “disregard of facts and the law,” making “misleading claims,” and relying on “false assertions.”

During his CFPB nomination process, Commissioner Chopra has done little to alleviate those concerns. I asked him in a question for the record whether there was a single CFPB enforcement action or rule that he believed was too burdensome or too punitive. He could not identify a single one.

Commissioner Chopra favors unaccountable regulators with vast powers, like the super-agency he proposed to regulate politicians, think tanks and nonprofits. And at his nomination hearing, Commissioner Chopra defended the CFPB’s unaccountable structure.

This raises concerns about how he would wield power at the CFPB. At the CFPB, he would not be accountable to Congress through the appropriations process. And since the CFPB is a single-director agency, there would be no other commissioners to restrain him.

Commissioner Chopra has also shown a complete disregard for congressional oversight. According to press reports, the Biden administration’s political leadership at the CFPB has been taking unusual and possibly unlawful actions to push out top-level career, non-political civil servants at the CFPB in order to fill those civil service positions with hand-picked activists. The implication is this was done in preparation for Commissioner Chopra’s taking over as CFPB Director.

In response to these reports, I sent Commissioner Chopra a letter asking straightforward questions about whether he was aware of—or involved in—any efforts to push out career civil servants at the CFPB. It has been over 100 days since I asked him these simple questions, yet he still has not provided any response to me.

His refusal to respond to my oversight request while his nomination is pending before the Senate is unacceptable from a nominee, and leaves little doubt about how he would treat congressional oversight if confirmed. As all of the Republicans on the Banking Committee have stated, “in our view this should disqualify [him] from consideration as CFPB Director.”

It is clear to me that Commissioner Chopra would return the CFPB to the rogue, unaccountable, anti-business agency it was during the Obama administration, and would continue to disregard legitimate congressional oversight. I urge my colleagues to join me in voting against his confirmation.