On September 30, 2015, the House Financial Services Committee passed with bipartisan support two bills that would have significant impact on the accountability and transparency of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
1. The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection-Inspector General Reform Act of 2015
H.R. 957 would create an independent inspector general for the CFPB who is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The bill also would require the CFPB to set aside 2 percent of its annual funding to operate the inspector general’s office.
Currently, there is no independent inspector general solely dedicated to the CFPB; instead, the CFPB and the Federal Reserve share an inspector general who is appointed by the Federal Reserve chairman, without the need for Senate confirmation. Originally introduced in 2013 by Representative Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), H.R. 957 was re-introduced in February 2015 as a bipartisan bill co-authored by Representatives Tim Walz (D-Minnesota) and Stivers. Representative Stivers has supported the bill, stating, “More than 30 other federal departments and agencies have an independent Inspector General. This bill would bring the CFPB in line with these agencies and provide the necessary oversight and transparency.”
The bill passed the committee by a vote of 56-3.
2. The Financial Product Safety Commission Act of 2015
H.R. 1266 would remove the CFPB from the Federal Reserve and make it a stand-alone agency governed by a five-member, bipartisan commission that includes no more than three commissioners of one political party. Currently, the CFPB is led by a lone director, Richard Cordray. The bill’s sponsor, Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), explained the purpose of the bill, stating, “By changing the leadership structure, we can ensure the CFPB is more accountable, transparent and shielded from the whims of political change and partisan politics.” The bill passed the committee by a vote of 35-4.
We will continue to monitor for further developments.