Three congressional bills trying to weaken the CFPB

Department of the Treasury

The Department of the Treasury would get additional powers over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, if new bills become law. Image: Flickr / wwworks / CC-BY-SA

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is set to launch in the next few months. Despite strong consumer support, three new House bills are attempting to weaken the CFPB. The House Financial Services Committee has approved these bills, but they have not yet become law.

Current status of the CFPB

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was initially created by the Dodd-Frank Act in order to “promote fairness and transparency for mortgages, credit cards and other consumer financial products and services.” The bureau is set to open for the first time in July of 2011. Despite this close deadline, no director has yet been nominated for the CFPB. Until a director is nominated and confirmed, the Secretary of the Treasury is responsible for running the CFPB.

Bills to weaken CFPB introduced

In the United States House of Representatives, three separate bills to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have been introduced. HR 1121, called the Responsible Consumer Financial Protection Regulations Act of 2011, would replace the director of the CFPB with a five-member commission. HR 1315, called the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Act, would give the Financial Stability Oversight Council of the Department of Treasury the right to overturn any rules made by the CFPB. Finally, HR 1667, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Transfer Clarification Act, would block the agency from operation until a director has been confirmed. These three bills have been approved by the Financial Services Committee and will be debated in the House.

What the CFPB will do

Though the duties and responsibilities of the CFPB may change, there are several things the Bureau will likely remain responsible for. First, the CFPB will review and monitor financial products with an eye toward consumer protection. Second, existing federal financial laws would be enforced with the assistance of the CFPB. The Bureau is also supposed to become a clearinghouse for information and resources for consumers.


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