Strike up the band, raise the curtains, because it’s time for another episode of Capitol Hill Theater, with Democrats and Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee doing their twice-yearly song-and-dance with the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In news that should surprise nobody, Democrats continue to be unhappy with the decisions made by Kathleen Kraninger, the director of the CFPB, while Republicans continue to defend Kraninger’s work and give her a standing ovation while demanding encore after encore.
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-Calif.], the chair of the Committee, said she was “appalled” at actions that have “undermined” the CFPB, while Rep. Patrick McHenry [R-N.C.], the Committee’s top Republican, said Kraninger has brought “fairness” to the regulator.
Although there was one area where both Democrats and Republicans sort of agreed with one another, and that’s on the CFPB’s new stance on defining “abusive” acts or practices under the Dodd-Frank’s mandate to give the CFPB the power to take action against what it deems to be Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices (UDAAP). The CFPB recently took a “know it when we see it” stance on “abusive,” and Democrats worry it will restrict the CFPB’s enforcement powers while Republicans thought the definition was too vague.
“I think the concern is we still don’t know what ‘abusive’ means, even with the guidance,” said Rep. Andy Barr [R-Ky.], during the hearing.
Kraninger left the door open to taking the policy stance a step further and issuing a proposed rule on defining abusive.
“The policy statement leaves open the ability to enter into a rulemaking action,” she said. “I would say at this point the Bureau really needs some more engagement to get to a rulemaking.”
With bigger pinatas to swing at — the new stance on defining abusive acts, the upcoming Supreme Court battle over the agency’s leadership structure, a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Education, and the continuing battle over a proposed payday lending rule — there were no swings left for the members of the Committee to whack at the CFPB’s proposed debt collection rule.