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Waters Statement on Kraninger’s Decision to Weaken an Essential Agency Enforcement Power

Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s policy statement on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s prohibition of unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices (UDAAP) in the consumer financial marketplace.

“The Consumer Bureau is the centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which Congress passed after the financial crisis to provide America’s consumers with a watchdog to crack down on abusive practices,” said Chairwoman Waters. “Unfortunately, Consumer Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger and the Trump Administration continue their efforts to undermine the law and the Consumer Bureau’s mission to better protect consumers. Friday’s announcement that the Consumer Bureau will enact a policy to gut the Dodd Frank Act’s prohibition on unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices will only encourage bad actors to engage in the reckless anti-consumer behavior that led to the financial crisis. Director Kraninger’s  new policy creates new standards that must be satisfied before the Consumer Bureau will enforce the “abusive” component of UDAAP, hampering the agency’s ability to protect consumers or to punish bad actors. This policy will also hinder the Consumer Bureau’s ability to hold entities accountable by rewriting the law to require a cost-benefit analysis when considering whether an act or practice is abusive. Even worse, it allows entities that engage in abusive conduct to avoid paying penalties, literally letting those who abuse consumers  get off scot-free.

“I am deeply concerned by this Administration’s ongoing efforts to gut important laws designed to protect hardworking Americans. Instead of rolling back the clock on consumer protections, I call on the Consumer Bureau to revert back to the days of putting consumers first.”  

Under the leadership of former Director Richard Cordray, the Consumer Bureau returned nearly $12 billion to over 30 million consumers who were harmed, handled over 1.2 million consumer complaints about financial institutions, and made the financial marketplace stronger and fairer for all Americans.

Chairwoman Waters continues to put consumers first by fighting against the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine this critical agency.

In January 2020 and October 2019, Chairwoman Waters and Speaker Pelosi announced House motions in the Seila Law v. CFPB case to file an amicus brief following the announcement by CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger that the agency would no longer defend the constitutionality of the CFPB Director’s for-cause removal provision.

In December 2019, Chairwoman Waters wrote a letter to Kathy Kraninger, expressing concerns regarding reports that a Trump Administration political appointee, Thomas G. Ward, is the lead candidate for the enforcement director position at the Consumer Bureau.

In October 2019, Chairwoman Waters also released a Majority staff report entitled, “Settling for Nothing: How Kraninger’s CFPB Leaves Consumers High and Dry.” The report presents evidence that the Trump Administration’s politicization of the Consumer Bureau has led to a decline in the Consumer Bureau’s obtaining redress for harmed consumers.

In May 2019, the House passed the Consumers First Act (H.R. 1500), legislation introduced by Chairwoman Waters to block the Trump Administration’s anti-consumer agenda and reverse their past efforts to undermine the mission of the Consumer Bureau.

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