Thursday, May 05, 2011

Senate Republicans Will Not Confirm Single Director for CFPB

In a letter to President Obama, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Banking Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby said that they would not consider confirming any person to be Director for the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection until until the structure of the organization is changed. The letter, which was co-signed by 44 Republican Senators, said that, as presently organized, far too much power will be vested in the CFPB Director without any effective checks and balances.

The senators seek the following reforms: establish a five member board of directors or Commission similar to the SEC in place of a single director; subject the CFPB to the appropriations process; and establish a safety-and-soundness check for prudential regulators. These measures are similar to the changes effected by a package of legislation just reported out of the House Financial Services Committee.

Dodd-Frank grants the CFPB unfettered broad regulatory, investigatory and enforcement powers over any persons or business that offers or sells a financial product or service. Despite this vast regulatory power, noted the senators, Dodd-Frank provides no real checks on the Director. Once confirmed, the Director effectively answers to no one. The Director is appointed by the President and can only be removed by the President for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office. Thus, the senators believe that a five-member Commission will be more accountable and ensure multiple viewpoints in the Bureau's decision making.