CFPB Report: June 4-July 8
On or about June 6, 2016, the Government Accountability Office issued a report entitled “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Additional Actions Needed to Support a Fair and Inclusive Workplace.” In 2014, Congressional hearings included testimony from CFPB employees about allegations of discrimination and retaliation, and the GAO was asked to review personnel management and organizational culture issues at the CFPB. The GAO found heightened concerns related to fair treatment, trust that employees can raise concerns without fear of reprisal, and confidence in complaint processes. More than 25 percent of survey respondents had unfavorable views, and dissatisfaction was above 35 percent in some offices and demographic groups. About one-third disagreed that success at the CFPB was based more on merit than on personal connections or favoritism. Disagreement was 40 percent or more for a few offices and among black respondents.
On June 22, the Administration issued a Statement of Policy expressing opposition to House passage of H. R. 5485, the financial services and general government appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017. Twenty of the 259 pages of the bill deal with the CFPB. The statement expressed strong opposition to section 502 and 503 of the bill that would subject the CFPB to funding by annual appropriations and substitute a five-member commission structure for the current director structure of the CFPB. It also expressed strong opposition to sections 506 and 637- 639 of the bill that would prevent the CFPB from finalizing or implementing payday lending and arbitration regulations. The day before, June 21, 70 amendments were offered including amendments proposed by Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) that would strike the prohibition on an arbitration rule, by Gwen Moore (D-WI) that would strike the funding provision, by Frank Guinta (R-NH) that would bar the CFPB from enforcing its indirect auto lending guidance, by Luke Messer (R-IN) that would bar the CFPB from taking enforcement action beyond the three-year statute of limitation imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act, and by Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) that would bar the CFPB from implanting a contract with a vendor to provide informational messages. On July 7, H. R. 5485 passed in the House.
On June 27, the Independent Community Bankers of America and the Credit Union National Association wrote to CFPB Director Cordray expressing concern about the CFPB’s proposed payday lending rule, warning that adoption of the rule would disrupt lending by their members. The proposed rule would not only apply to payday loans, but also would apply to auto title loans, deposit advance products, and certain high-rate installment and open-end loans. The proposed rule generally requires an analysis of an applicant’s ability to repay, and many believe that is not cost-efficient in the case of small loans.