FSC Majority | Week in ReviewPosted by Staff on May 23, 2014
Committee Examines the Dangers of FSOC’s Designation Process
On Tuesday, the full committee held a hearing to examine the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s (FSOC) designation process for deeming banks and non-bank firms as “systemically important” and the impact of such designations.
"FSOC was established—or so its supporters tell us—to make it easier for regulators to communicate and share information with each other. But the regulators didn’t need an act of Congress to do that, and information-sharing is not what FSOC is really about. Instead, FSOC is about one thing: increasing Washington’s control over the U.S. economy thus curtailing both economic freedom and economic prosperity. And FSOC does this through its power to designate “Systemically Important Financial Institutions”—or, in bureaucrat-speak, “SIFIs,” said Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).
"Having failed to prevent the last financial crisis, notwithstanding having every regulatory power necessary to do so, regulators were rewarded with even more power by the Dodd-Frank Act. The Dodd-Frank Act represents a breathtaking outsourcing of legislative power to the executive branch. Federal agencies now have virtually unfettered discretion to expand their regulatory control through a designation process that is opaque, secretive, vague, open-ended, and highly subjective," he said.
Chairman Hensarling and Members of the committee called on FSOC "to cease and desist further SIFI designations until Congress can review the entire matter." Witnesses argued that FSOC's designations would harm the U.S. financial system and hurt the economy.
Subcommittee Discusses Legislative Proposals to Reform Domestic Insurance Policy
On Tuesday, the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee held a hearing to examine five legislative proposals addressing domestic insurance issues.
"We turn our attention to some insurance reform legislation that focuses on protecting policyholders, offering more consumer choice for insurance products and providing regulatory relief to reduce costs to domestic policyholders," said Subcommittee Chairman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX).
Subcommittee Hears Testimony from Subpoenaed CFPB Witnesses
On Wednesday, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee received testimony from CFPB officials who were recently subpoenaed as part of the subcommittee’s ongoing investigation into allegations of discrimination and retaliation at the CFPB.
“The fact is that discrimination on the basis of race, sex or other prohibited factors is destructive, morally repugnant, and against the law. All government agencies, including the CFPB, must continue to combat discrimination in employment and punish those responsible for discrimination,” said Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC).
Wednesday's hearing comes nearly a month after subcommittee members voted 20-0 to issue subpoenas to Stacey Bach, Assistant Director of the CFPB’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity; Liza Strong, Director of Employee Relations at the CFPB; and Ben Konop, Executive Vice President of the CFPB’s employee union, Chapter 335 of the National Treasury Employees Union.
Konop testified that the employees union repeatedly raised concerns with the CFPB about its employee performance review system.
“[W]e alleged that women and minority employees were being underpaid when compared to similarly situated white male colleagues. To date, the Bureau has denied each of these grievances at all stages, often using inconsistent reasoning, despite what I feel is convincing evidence of low pay for numerous women and minority workers,” Konop told the subcommittee.
During the hearing, the subcommittee discussed a report commissioned by the CFPB and conducted by Deloitte Consulting. The findings of Deloitte’s report corroborate whistleblower and CFPB employee Angela Martin’s testimony that there have been problems related to the CFPB’s hiring, staff promotions, performance reviews and employee pay since the Bureau’s inception.
Subcommittee Discusses Legislative Proposals to Improve Transparency and Accountability at the CFPB
On Wednesday, the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee held a hearing to examine legislative proposals to improve transparency and accountability at the CFPB.
Subcommittee Chairman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said the bills discussed at today’s hearing represent “a continuation of this committee’s efforts to make the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau a more transparent and accountable agency. I would like to thank the sponsors of the legislation before us for their hard work in crafting common sense reforms to the Bureau.”
Witnesses at today’s hearing described the CFPB as a uniquely unaccountable, secretive, and powerful agency whose actions make it harder for American businesses to create jobs and that is in need of greater transparency, accountability and oversight.
Committee Passes Job Growth and Regulatory Relief Bills
The House Financial Services Committee on Thursday passed 11 bills to enhance capital formation for small and emerging growth companies and provide regulatory relief for community financial institutions.
“When we, as a committee, have the opportunity to help put Americans back to work, to help create jobs, we have the responsibility to do so and hopefully to do so on a bipartisan basis. This is why our committee has already guided 22 regulatory relief bills to House passage. The vast majority of those bills, once again, have received strong -- not just token -- but strong bipartisan support,” said Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).
“Now it is most regrettable that the Senate, where all good ideas go to languish and fail, has indeed failed to take up a single one of those bipartisan bills. I would strongly encourage my Democratic colleagues, who may spend more quality time with the Senate Majority Leader and the President than do I, to encourage them to take up these bills, to contact their friends and colleagues in the Senate and in the White House and urge them to pay attention to what our committee has put forth on a bipartisan basis. This would indeed be very, very constructive. But again, despite the Senate’s failure to act, we must act,” Hensarling added.
Rep. Randy Neugebauer | VIDEO: PATH Act on CNBC
Rep. Neugebauer discussed housing finance reform and the PATH Act with CNBC's Rick Santelli.
Weekend Must Reads
Investor's Business Daily | At Last, Congress Checks Obama's Rogue Consumer Bureau
CFPB has the power to police virtually every financial transaction in the economy. Yet it holds its meetings in secret, has no inspector general and is funded outside the normal congressional budget process. On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee [took up] 11 bills that would make the bureau more accountable and transparent to Americans.
Wall Street Journal | The Fed's Blueprint for Financial Control
Federal Reserve regulation of U.S. capital markets would be a huge mistake. It would retard economic growth, lower investor returns and dull the vibrancy of the country's financial system.
In the News
Pensions & Investments | FSOC hears from money managers, House critics on systemically important designations
American Banker | CFPB Moved Slowly to Fix Evaluation Disparities: Lawmakers
Politico Pro | GOP: CFPB too slow to address diversity, hiring problems
Washington Examiner | CFPB misses diversity mark, outside consultant says