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Hensarling: “Who will protect consumers from the overreach of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?”

Washington, March 3, 2015 -


Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at today’s full committee hearing with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray:

The CFPB undoubtedly remains the single most powerful and least accountable Federal agency in all of Washington.

When it comes to the credit cards, auto loans and mortgages of hardworking taxpayers the CFPB has unbridled, discretionary power not only to make those less available and more expensive, but to absolutely take them away.

Consequently, Americans are losing both their financial independence and the protection of the rule of law. The bureau is fundamentally unaccountable to the president since the director can only be removed for cause. Fundamentally unaccountable to Congress because the bureau’s funding is not subject to appropriations. Fundamentally unaccountable to the courts because Dodd-Frank requires courts to grant the CFPB deference regarding its interpretation of Federal consumer financial law. Thus, the bureau regrettably remains unaccountable to the American people. That is why we need the CFPB on budget and led by a bipartisan commission; mere testimony is not the equivalent to accountability.

I was struck by a comment made by one of my Democratic colleagues who argued during the Committee’s markup of our budget views and estimates that the Bureau must be protected from “the whim of whoever are the legislators.”  I remind all of my colleagues that “the legislators” are chosen by the American people under the provisions of our Constitution. Powerful Washington bureaucrats must answer to the American people, not the other way around.  I find it most ironic to hear any Democrat arguing against democracy. 

I am reminded of a warning from author and theologian C.S. Lewis, who said “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.”  

All of this once again begs the question: who will protect consumers from the overreach of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

Free checking has been cut in half. QM increasingly stands for “Quitting Mortgages” as community bank after community bank finds they can no longer offer mortgages to many of their deserving customers.

Now we’re to the subject of overdraft protection. I heard from one of my constituents, Tamara from Athens, Texas in the Fifth Congressional District “I wish to keep the overdraft protection. I should have the right to choose.” And that is what this debate is really about; protecting the right, the fundamental economic liberties of the American citizen so that we can seek economic growth and they can find their financial independence.

True consumer protection requires access to competitive, transparent and innovative markets vigorously policed for force, fraud and deception. True consumer protection empowers consumers and respects their economic freedoms to make important informed choices free from government interference and fiat.

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