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At Cordray Hearing, Waters Applauds Consumer Protection Efforts, Increasing Access to Credit for Minorities

In opening remarks during today’s full Committee hearing with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Financial Services panel, commended the results outlined in the agency’s semi-annual report.

Waters also underscored the importance of the agency’s work to develop rules on payday lending, debt collection and mortgage lending. This critical work has continued despite incessant attacks and failed constitutional challenges to the Bureau's existence, independence and structure.

Waters went on to note that despite dire warnings from critics of rulemakings like the Qualified Mortgage rule, the share of mortgages for African Americans and Latinos is rising and access to consumer credit cards is expanding, even for low FICO-score borrowers.

Full text of the statement is below.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I am pleased to welcome you back to the Committee, Director Cordray.

We gather to discuss the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s semi-annual report, which reflects your diligent work to protect American consumers and establish clear rules of the road to improve our financial marketplace.

Director Cordray, first and foremost, I want to take the time to commend your efforts to return hard-earned money to the families who rightly earned it – specifically, with the 11 billion dollars of ill-gotten gains you’ve returned to 25 million Americans.

That is no small feat, and I applaud you for it. Likewise, I want to commend your agency’s work to end the sorts of unfair, deceptive and abusive practices that nearly brought our economy to its knees seven years ago, and that continue to strip wealth from American families.

This includes your work to implement payday rules free of debt traps; to establish debt collection guidelines that promote honest settlements and block bad actors; and to ensure that borrowers have access to fair, responsible, and sustainable mortgage credit. I also want to commend you on your recent enforcement action against a bank for redlining – I know many people think these types of ugly policies are a thing of the past, but this recent enforcement action demonstrates how badly your agency is needed.

As you state in your report, the CFPB has also taken steps to empower the American public, launching consumer resources specifically tailored for college students, older Americans, and people preparing for homeownership, not to mention the nearly half a million consumer complaints you’ve processed through your online portal.

It is unfortunate, however, that rather than working to encourage good behavior in our markets and support American consumers, opponents on this Committee continue to promote measures to eliminate or weaken the Bureau. They’ve perpetuated false narratives of an agency that is unaccountable and lacks transparency, despite the record number of times you’ve made yourself available to Congress and the many checks and balances on the Bureau contained in Dodd-Frank. And they continue to support and amplify industry challenges to the CFPB’s constitutionality in court, with little to no success.

So what we’re seeing, now that the CFPB has celebrated its fourth birthday, is that the dire predictions of the Republicans on this Committee have not come true. For example, we’ve actually seen an increase in the share of mortgages made to African American and Hispanic borrowers since your Qualified Mortgage rule was put in place in 2014, after several years of decline. Data shows that access to consumer credit cards is expanding, even for low FICO-score borrowers, at the same time that defaults on credit are declining. And as one analyst has noted, “For all the talk about the death of free checking, nothing could be further from the truth.” These are all important facts that bear repeating.

Finally, just last week we had the Holy Father Pope Francis come to a joint session of Congress and deliver an historic address. In his remarks, he encouraged us lawmakers to “keep in mind all those people are us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty.” Director Cordray, I believe your work, and the work of the Bureau, lives up to that promise of a better economy – one that serves working people and fulfills the American promise of opportunity. I look forward to hearing your testimony today, and I yield back the balance of my time.”


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