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Public Statements

Letter to Barack Obama, President of the United States - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Accountability and Transparency

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

In a letter to President Obama, 43 Republican U.S. Senators today said they will continue to oppose the confirmation of any nominee, regardless of party affiliation, to be the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until key changes are made to ensure accountability and transparency at the bureau.

"As supporters of strong and effective consumer protections, we write to you to reaffirm our concerns over the transparency and accountability of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As outlined in our letter of May 2, 2011, we have serious concerns about the lack of congressional oversight of the agency and the lack of normal, democratic checks on its sole director," according to the letter, which was authored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), ranking Republican of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.

The President has renominated Richard Cordray as CFPB director. But last week the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that Obama's so-called "recess" appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last year are unconstitutional. Although the specific facts of that case involved only the NLRB, Cordray was "recess" appointed at the same time and in the same manner as the alleged NLRB "appointees." The Circuit Court's decision, said McConnell, thus applies with equal force to Cordray's alleged appointment to the CFPB.

As currently organized, the CFPB is insulated from congressional oversight of its actions and its budget, the senators wrote. "Far too much power is vested in the sole CFPB director without any meaningful checks and balances," according to the letter. The lawmakers again urged the adoption of three reforms:

* Replace the single Director with a board to oversee the Bureau. This would provide the same checks on the ability for a single person to dominate the Bureau that exist at other independent federal agencies.
* Subject the Bureau to the Congressional appropriations process. This would provide oversight and accountability to the American people on how public money is spent.
* Establish a safety-and-soundness check for the prudential financial regulators who oversee the safety and soundness of financial institutions. This would help ensure that excessive regulations do not needlessly cause bank failures.

"We believe these are commonsense reforms that Congress can promptly adopt on a bipartisan basis," the senators wrote. "It is essential that we address these reforms prior to confirming any nominee to be the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

Leader McConnell said: "The CFPB as created by the deeply flawed Dodd-Frank Act is one of the least accountable in Washington. Today's letter reaffirms a commitment by 43 Senators to fix the poorly thought structure of this agency that has unprecedented reach and control over individual consumer decisions--but an unprecedented lack of oversight and accountability."

Senator Crapo said: "Until key structural changes are made to the Bureau to ensure accountability and transparency, I will continue my opposition to any nominee for director. The administration should use this as an opportunity to work with us on the critical, commonsense reforms we have identified to them."

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), who today filed legislation (S. 205) that would enact reforms contained in the letter, said: "Allowing a single unelected official to define their own jurisdiction and regulate vast segments of our economy without accountability or restraint is irresponsible regardless of political party. Our commonsense legislation brings a variety of perspectives to the Bureau and gives Congress the oversight authority required for such a powerful agency. We stand ready to work with the president to make certain the CFPB's mission of consumer protection is both effective and accountable."

The full text of the letter is provided below. A scanned copy is attached along with the original letter from May 2011.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
February 1, 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama
The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500-0005

Dear Mr. President:

As supporters of strong and effective consumer protections, we write to you to reaffirm our concerns over the transparency and accountability of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As outlined in our letter of May 2, 2011, we have serious concerns about the lack of congressional oversight of the agency and the lack of normal, democratic checks on its sole director, who would wield nearly unprecedented powers. Accordingly, we will continue to oppose the consideration of any nominee, regardless of party affiliation, to be the CFPB director until key structural changes are made to ensure accountability and transparency at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

As presently organized, the CFPB is insulated from congressional oversight of its actions and its budget. Far too much power is vested in the sole CFPB director without any meaningful checks and balances. We again urge the adoptions of the following reforms:

1. Establish a bipartisan board of directors to oversee the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
2. Subject the Bureau to the annual appropriation process, similar to other federal regulators.
3. Establish a safety-and-soundness check for the prudential regulators.

We believe these are commonsense reforms that Congress can promptly adopt on a bipartisan basis. It is essential that we address these reforms prior to confirming any nominee to be the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We look forward to working with you to address these necessary reforms.

http://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/?a=Files.Serve&File_id=cfc715b0-bdac-4be9-be6c-1b37109962f6


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