The chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services unleashed a withering attack on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Thursday (July 30), accusing the agency of failing to protect consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic and accusing its director of committing “a betrayal of consumers.”
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), according to an advance copy of remarks prepared for delivery at a hearing on the CPFB’s COVID-19 performance, said she “would like to welcome Director Kraninger to what I hope will be her last appearance before this Committee as CFPB director.”
“Ten years after we passed the Dodd-Frank Act to end the predatory and discriminatory practices that caused the financial crisis, we find ourselves in the midst of an economic and health crisis caused by incompetence and exacerbated by narcissism, [which] will once again hit the most vulnerable Americans the hardest,” Waters said.
She added that American consumers “need a strong Consumer Bureau that provides robust protections on their behalf and holds financial institutions accountable when they commit abuses.”
Waters added: “…consumers are reporting major hardships in working with payday lenders, mortgage servicers, credit card companies and the credit reporting bureaus. They are reporting long wait times, inconsistent information from consumer representatives, and a lack of follow up.
“Unfortunately,” she continued, “our witness today, Consumer Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger, has done next to nothing of substance about any of this. Instead, she has focused the Consumer Bureau on weakening critical consumer protections, relaxing enforcement against financial institutions and undermining the agency from the inside.”
Waters accused Kraninger of a series of actions that are “just the latest that you have carried out to sabotage the very agency you have been entrusted with leading” and “a betrayal of the consumers you are tasked with protecting.”
A CPFB spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment, but U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the ranking Republican on the Committee, responded during the hearing by criticizing Waters for the “partisan” tone of her remarks and lauded Kraninger for her work.
McHenry said Kraninger has provided “protection for the consumers most at risk during these troubling times.” He said she has done “damn good work,” a Youtube video of the hearing shows.
Kraninger said during the hearing that “our supervisory and enforcement work continues during the pandemic.” She said the agency has looked at “hundreds of institutions in a risk-based approach” to determine how they’re responding to the pandemic.
She also said the CPFB during the pandemic has been “incredibly active with all our law enforcement partners.”
Kraninger discussed some of those efforts in her prepared remarks, which can be found on the CFPB’s website.
In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the CPFB’s structure is unconstitutional, but that the agency can be repaired so that it would pass Constitutional muster.