CFPB defends its actions to protect consumers before a sometimes hostile Congress

CFPB director Chopra
CFPB Flickr account | Public Domain
CFPB Director Rohit Chopra

Today, CFPB director Rohit Chopra is defending the CFPB’s work (pdf)  protecting all consumers — from veterans and older Americans to lower-income Americans — before the Senate Banking Committee. He testified yesterday before the House Financial Services Committee.

Both hearings were to deliver the statutory Semi-Annual Report of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While CFPB opponents often claim it is “out-of-control” and “unaccountable to Congress,” only the CFPB and the Federal Reserve are required by law to testify twice a year before each committee.

PIRG has long championed the CFPB’s efforts to hold the financial industry accountable, watching over not only regulated banks but also other financial firms ranging from debt collectors and credit bureaus to high-cost payday lenders and, increasingly, BigTech firms selling products from Buy Now, Pay Later plans to Person-to-Person (P2P) payments.

As our CFPB campaign director Mike Litt recently said:

“As we highlighted in a post on the CFPB’s 11th birthday this July, since Director Chopra was sworn in the CFPB is protecting consumers better than ever before.”

Of course, we’ve also held the CFPB to task when necessary.

The hearings have served as a stark reminder of the polarization of the two parties on the matter of whether or not consumers should have a strong, independent defender of their own to counter the millions of dollars spent by Wall Street banks, payday lenders, credit bureaus, debt collectors and others on lobbying, campaign donations and other influence-peddling.

In some cases, as seen by the CFPB’s enforcement actions, industry efforts are intended to maintain their ability to continue to gouge consumers with junk fees or take illegal actions to preserve unfair practices.

You know where we stand. We will continue to protect the CFPB, the only federal financial agency with just one job: protecting consumers. As Senate Banking chair Sherrod Brown said in his opening statement today:

“So it’s fitting that this Committee’s last hearing for the 117th Congress is the CFPB’s Semi-Annual Report—because fighting for consumers is one of the most important things we can do on this Committee. Since the CFPB first opened its doors in 2011, the consumer agency has returned $14.9 billion to consumers, including principal reductions, canceled debts, and other relief. That’s $14.9 billion, with a B. Over 183 million consumers have been eligible for that relief. The CFPB has a track record of helping real people get real compensation for real harm from financial institutions that have wronged them.”

Well said! As I often say, borrowing from Edward Abbey’s comment on the need for wilderness but substituting “CFPB:” “The idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.”

CFPB, the PIRGs have your back.

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Ed Mierzwinski

Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program, PIRG

Ed oversees U.S. PIRG’s federal consumer program, helping to lead national efforts to improve consumer credit reporting laws, identity theft protections, product safety regulations and more. Ed is co-founder and continuing leader of the coalition, Americans For Financial Reform, which fought for the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, including as its centerpiece the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He was awarded the Consumer Federation of America's Esther Peterson Consumer Service Award in 2006, Privacy International's Brandeis Award in 2003, and numerous annual "Top Lobbyist" awards from The Hill and other outlets. Ed lives in Virginia, and on weekends he enjoys biking with friends on the many local bicycle trails.

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