WASHINGTON, D.C. — Four associations representing 12,000 banks and credit unions submitted a letter to Senate leaders urging them to consider replacing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s single-director structure with a five-person bipartisan commission next year.
The associations listed in the letter, which was sent on Wednesday to Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader-elect Chuck Schumer (D-NY), include the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA), the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU).
“The CFPB is an independent regulatory agency that provides the sole director unprecedented authority over financial institutions, with minimal oversight,” read the letter, which was sent to Senate leaders on Wednesday. “As the sole decisionmaker, the director can promulgate regulations and levy enforcement actions that have sweeping and long-lasting effects on credit availability for consumers. The current single-director structure leads to regulatory uncertainty for consumers, industry, and the economy.”
The associations cited the recent federal appellate court decision in PHH Corp. v. CFPB D.C. Circuit Court Case as further evidence of the need to replace the bureau's structure. In that case, the appellate court ruled the in favor of the mortgage company, deeming the the bureau’s single-director structure unconstitutional. The court also gave the president the power to remove the CFPB's director at will, as well as direct the regulator's activities.
“This result makes it even more apparent what a whipsaw effect the single-director model presents, inhibiting the ability for financial institutions to plan for the future, which in turn limits economic growth and hurts consumers,” the associations stated in their letter.
A five-person bipartisan board or commission would be more in line with other financial regulators and would provide a balanced and deliberative approach to supervision, regulation, and enforcement over financial institutions, the associations stated. A five-person commission would also be better suited to handle the bureau’s authority over rules and regulations within the financial industry, the letter added.
“As we approach the beginning of a new administration, it is crucial we finally put in place a governing structure at the CFPB to ensure it does not become a political weapon, something we are certain Senate leaders McConnell and Schumer can appreciate," said CBA President and CEO Richard Hunt. "In addition, the governing structure of the agency makes the potential for abuse of power and political influence not only possible, but inevitable."