Advocates from 36 states head to Congress to counter unprecedented attack on consumer protections
Congress considering bills to gut the CFPB and roll back essential consumer safeguards
May 9, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Over 100 consumer advocates from 36 states across the country are coming to Washington, D.C. this week to urge lawmakers in Congress to oppose legislation that would harm consumers in their communities. In particular, the advocates are calling on Congress to reject legislation that would weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and undermine its proposed rules to limit high-cost payday loans and forced arbitration. The advocates are also urging opposition to the Regulatory Accountability Act which will cause agency paralysis by analysis and make it extremely difficult to enact important new health, safety, and pocketbook protections.
The effort is being coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America and is co-sponsored by Consumers Union, U.S. PIRG, National Consumer Law Center, Public Citizen, National Consumers League, National Association Consumer Advocates, and Americans for Financial Reform. “We’re facing an unprecedented attack in Congress on sensible consumer protections that help protect our wallets and keep us safe,” said Stephen Brobeck, Consumer Federation of America’s Executive Director. “Lawmakers should stand with consumers and reject proposals that threaten to weaken the CFPB and block essential safeguards for working families.”
Last week, the House Financial Services Committee approved the Financial CHOICE Act, which would essentially gut the CFPB by eliminating much of its authority and enforcement powers. Under the bill, the CFPB would lose its ability to stop unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices. The bill blocks the CFPB’s authority to conduct financial education campaigns and would do away with the CFPB’s public complaint database. If the bill is approved, the CFPB’s director could be fired at will by the President, unlike other banking regulators, and the agency’s budget would be subject to the congressional appropriations process, opening it up to further attack by financial industry opponents determined to shrink its budget.
In January of this year, the House passed numerous bills that would make it more difficult for necessary consumer protections to be finalized. One of these bills, the Regulatory Accountability Act, passed the House in January and was recently introduced in the Senate. Consumers expect that their food and products will be safe and that the financial marketplace will be fair but these bills would make it almost impossible for these rules to ever be finalized. The Regulatory Accountability Act would grind proposed consumer protections to a halt by requiring extensive time-consuming analysis that prioritizes costs over benefits, providing more opportunities for litigation, and undermining the expertise and independence of federal agencies.
Consumer Federation of America’s partners and co-sponsors of Consumer Lobby Day discuss why it is so important that Congress hears and heeds the concerns and needs of consumers.
“The CHOICE Act is the wrong choice for consumers because it strips the CFPB of most of its power to take on banks and other financial firms that engage in unfair and predatory practices,” said Pamela Banks, senior counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports. “This bill neuters this critical consumer watchdog and would leave Americans more vulnerable to getting hit with hidden fees, costly scams, and financial fraud.”
Among those coming to D.C. to urge Congress to defend the CFPB are consumers who have been harmed by unfair mortgage foreclosure, payday loan and student loan practices. Consumers Union can connect reporters with these consumers and others who have filed complaints with the CFPB about the problems they’ve encountered and gotten assistance resolving those issues.
Americans for Financial Reform
“Across the country, communities have mobilized to stand up to Wall Street and predatory lenders,” said José Alcoff, Campaign Organizer at Americans for Financial Reform. “People have come to Washington today to let their congress members know that if they choose to sell out to Wall Street, people will be paying attention back home.”
National Association of Consumer Advocates
“Memories of the dramatic losses of U.S. jobs, homes, and economic security caused by the 2008 financial crisis seem to have faded in Congress,” said Christine Hines, legislative director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. “Thankfully, consumers and advocates across the country are committed to reminding lawmakers that we need an independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to fight for a fair and open marketplace that protects our rights and interests.”
National Consumer Law Center
“The CPFB is incredibly effective at protecting military servicemembers, seniors, working families, students and other consumers,” said National Consumer Law Center Associate Director Lauren Saunders. “Congress should not carry water for Wall Street and predatory lenders by pushing to gut the consumer watchdog.”
National Consumers League
“NCL fully supports sensible rules and regulations for companies doing business in the US and reaping profits from American consumers. Without rules of the road, consumers will be further victimized by false and deceptive tactics, rip offs, unsafe financial and consumer products,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League. “The CFPB and our carefully crafted regulatory system makes the US a good place to do business and offer critical consumer protections. History has shown that we must preserve these institutions and uphold these rules to avoid economic disaster.”
“It’s outrageous that some members of Congress are attempting to strip critical consumer financial regulations,” said Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen’s vice president of legislative affairs. “That’s why Public Citizen is proud to join with partner groups and activists from around the country to strengthen the unified front defending these essential government safeguards that stabilize markets and provide needed relief to Americans who are ripped-off by unscrupulous financial actors.”
“Consumer leaders from around the country are bringing members of Congress a strong message,” said Janet Domenitz, MASSPIRG Director (and CFA president). “Don’t weaken the CFPB and don’t roll back our financial and public health protections.”
Jose Alcoff, Payday Campaign Organizer, Americans for Financial Reform, email@example.com
Christine Hines, Legislative Director, National Association of Consumer Advocates, christine@consumeradvocates.
Patrice Snow, Communications Director, U.S. PIRG, 803-317-1181
Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.
Consumers Union is the public policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports. Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.
Americans for Financial Reform is a nonpartisan and nonprofit coalition of more than 200 civil rights, consumer, labor, business, investor, faith-based, and civic and community groups. Formed in the wake of the 2008 crisis, we are working to lay the foundation for a strong, stable, and ethical financial system – one that serves the economy and the nation as a whole.
The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) is a nonprofit association whose members are private and public sector attorneys, legal services attorneys, law professors, and law students committed to representing consumers’ interests. NACA is actively engaged in promoting a fair and open marketplace that forcefully protects the rights of consumers, particularly those of modest means.
Since 1969, the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®) has worked for consumer justice and economic security for low-income and other disadvantaged people, including older adults, in the U.S. through its expertise in policy analysis and advocacy, publications, litigation, expert witness services, and training. www.nclc.org
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.
Public Citizen is a national non-profit organization with more than 400,000 members and supporters. We represent the public interest through lobbying, litigation, administrative advocacy, research and public education on a broad range of issues including consumer rights in the marketplace, product safety, worker rights, workplace safety, financial regulation, safe and affordable health care, campaign finance reform and government ethics, fair trade, climate change and corporate and government accountability. Learn more at citizen.org.
U.S. PIRG serves as the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups. PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations that take on powerful special interests on behalf of their members.