By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday the House Financial Services Committee passed a bill sponsored by Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia to make the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) more accountable to the people that it regulates.
The CFPB is of one of the federal government’s largest and most powerful regulatory agencies. H.R. 2446, the Responsible Consumer Financial Protection Regulations Act of 2013 would make the controversial agency more openness and transparent. The bill would change the leadership at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from a single director with no congressional budget oversight to a bipartisan five member commission.
Representative Bachus said, “It may be a coincidence that this bill is being offered during the rollout of Obamacare. But when we allow one person, whether it is the President or the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to have the power to pick and choose what products Americans can have – and in fact to make that choice for them – we deny the public a fundamental right.”
The CFPB has sweeping powers to regulate a wide range of financial products including home mortgages, credit cards, and other personal credit products. The commission structure is used by most federal regulatory agencies as a way to promote thorough deliberation and continuity.
Congressman Bachus warned about unrestrained federal regulatory power and that equating “bigger government” with “better solutions” whether it is over personal finances or Americans health care comes with great risk.
Congressman Bachus has questioned several unprecedented regulatory initiatives by the CFPB, including an agency data mining project and the U.S. Trustee Program (USTP) that involved personal financial information from thousands of Americans’ bankruptcy proceedings.
Bachus is the Chairman Emeritus of the Financial Services Committee and has been a critic of the CFPB which was created by the controversial Dodd-Frank Wall-Street and Consumer Protection Act passed early in the Obama administration when Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress and could pass anything they wanted.
The CFPB is not answerable to Congress because they set their own multi-$billion budget and are funded directly by the Federal Reserve, thus Congress can not set budget priorities for the powerful agency which writes regulations for virtually all retail businesses in the country and answers only to the President.
H.R. 2446 still has to pass the full House and then faces an uncertain future in the Democratic controlled U.S. Senate where few House bills have been brought to a vote by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) from Nevada.