Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Acting Director Mick Mulvaney spoke before Congress this week to tout legislative changes to the structure of the regulator he’s advocating.
Although Mulvaney stopped short of asking Congress for a bipartisan commission structure in his semi-annual report released last week, he seemed to support the idea during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.
When Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL) asked if Mulvaney sill supported a bipartisan commission as he once had during his tenure as a member of Congress, Mulvaney responded in the affirmative.
“I still believe that,” Mulvaney said during the House hearing. “I think I was a cosponsor of [legislation creating a CFPB commission] when I was here.”
However, most of his time was spent on proposals outlined in the report, including Congressional appropriations, Congressional review of rules passed by the bureau, the addition of an inspector general, and the ability for the president to fire the director at will.
“There are a bunch of things we can do Senator to make this better without undermining the mission,” Mulvaney said during the Senate hearing today. “I’m not seeking to undermine the mission of the bureau. I have every interest in enforcing the law, protecting consumers and educating consumers.”
Most of Mulvaney’s hearings centered on his desire for more “accountability” at the bureau. In his written testimony, Mulvaney said, “The Bureau’s new strategic priorities are to recognize free markets and consumer choice and to take a prudent, consistent, and humble approach to enforcing the law.
“As an officer in the executive branch, I am sworn to execute the law, and that is what I am doing,” he wrote. “That is all I should be doing.”
During the hearing, there were tense moments including when Mulvaney said he believed it would be his “statutory right” to sit and “twiddle his thumbs” while the House Financial Services Committee asked its questions.
Mulvaney also defended his role at the helm of the bureau, saying he has not “burned the place down” and that bureau still has a workforce of 1,627 employees, just 10 fewer than when he took the job. Mulvaney has in the past criticized the bureau and called it a “joke.”
Mulvaney also said that he approved of the Senate for passing a bill to loosen parts of the Dodd-Frank Act, but then urged senators to add several measures produced by the House to the bill. Several Democrats have said they would remove their support for the bill of these measures were added, according to reports.
“The Bureau will continue to enforce fair lending laws,” according to Mulvaney’s written testimony . The current fair lending supervision and enforcement functions will remain in the soon-to-be-renamed Division of Supervision, Enforcement, and Fair Lending. Accordingly, the Bureau will have one office, not two, that handles enforcement matters.
However, the move has been seen as largely stripping the fair lending office of its enforcement powers and has demoralized staff their, lawyers told AFN.
“The Bureau will continue to enforce the law,” Mulvaney said. “That is our job, and we take it seriously. However, people will know what the rules are before the Bureau accuses them of breaking those rules.”
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