Congressman Spencer Bachus (AL-6) has introduced legislation to promote accountability at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau by changing the administration of the agency from a single director to a five-member bipartisan commission
The bill (H.R. 2446, The Responsible Consumer Financial Protections Act) reflects concerns that Bachus, who is Chairman Emeritus of the House Financial Services Committee, has long had about the structure of the agency.
During the deliberations that led to the Dodd-Frank Act, Bachus argued in support of a commission or board structure for the agency, which he said was the norm at nearly every other financial regulator and independent agency, including the FTC, SEC, and FDIC. Bachus said recent revelations of administrative deficiencies at the CFPB have further heightened his concerns about concentrating its enormous authority in a single director.
"The CFPB is a massive agency that has been granted unprecedented power to regulate a critical swath of the economy and the personal finances of Americans. It was never a good idea to consolidate all of its power in a single individual, and there is even less accountability now as a result of the President's alleged "recess' appointment of a director without Senate confirmation. There are many problems that need to be addressed at the CFPB, but a commission structure would help improve accountability and transparency," said Bachus.
As currently constituted, the CFPB director serves for a fixed term exempt from presidential control; exercises sole authority over the agency; and has the singular power to spend hundreds of millions of dollars outside of the congressional appropriations process.
H.R. 2446 would amend Title C of the Dodd-Frank Act by replacing the position of director of the CFPB with a five-person commission. Each member of the commission would be appointed by the President and subject to confirmation by the Senate. Commission members would serve staggered five-year terms to ensure continuity and predictability. No more than three of the five members could be from the same political party.
The newly-introduced legislation is identical to a bill that Bachus proposed as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee during the 112th Congress.