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Topics: CFPB

Examiner Editorial: Why some Democrats would like to limit congressional oversight

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Opinion,Congress,Editorial,CFPB,Washington Examiner,Maxine Waters

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray was in the headlines again last week, this time because one of his senior executives tried to prevent a whistle blower from delivering stunning testimony describing what may well be the most hostile workplace for minority employees in the federal government.

But that was not the only disturbing disclosure during the June 18 hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. Listen to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the committee's top Democrat: “I'm disappointed that a package to destabilize CFPB's leadership and its autonomy and tie its funding to the whims of congressional appropriations process made its way through the U.S. House of Representatives. If enacted into law, we will be one step closer to the Republican goal to ending the CFPB's ability to protect all consumers, including students, seniors, families and service members.”

'If you become a part of the appropriations process, you will not be able to do many of these things that I have evidence of your being able to do.'

Waters' predictable partisan claptrap contained a genuinely alien notion about American government that another committee Democrat, Rep. Al Green of Texas, seized on and expanded: “The end that persons are seeking, not all but some, is to place the CFPB under the appropriations process. Then you would find yourself in the same position as the SEC: budget cut, underfunded, understaffed, overburdened. You still got 300 million people to protect. But you're under the process that allows Congress to cut your budget, manipulate your budget to the extent that you won't be efficacious. The truth is, if you become a part of the appropriations process, you will not be able to do many of these things that I have evidence of your being able to do.”

Waters and Green want to maintain the CFPB's status as the only federal department or agency not subject to the congressional appropriations process. The two Democrats fear that Congress is moving in the direction of correcting the monumental mistake it made when it created CFPB in 2010 and exempted it from congressional oversight of its budget. Their reasoning, as Green put it, is that a CFPB answerable to Congress would be unable “to supervise bank and non-bank mortgage companies. You won’t be able to produce new protections against irresponsible mortgage lending. You won’t be able to produce new protections for homeowners facing foreclosure.” And much more.

Simply put, Waters and Green view the congressional appropriations process as an obstacle to doing things they judge to be good, rather than as a tool by which the American people make sure the executive branch properly enforces the laws they instructed Congress to approve. This is how a democratic republic functions. Do Waters and Green think other agencies - say, the IRS, NSA, the Department of Homeland Security or perhaps the FBI - should be similarly unaccountable to the people's representatives?

And what will they do when, having freed the bureaucrats of congressional shackles, they find a Republican president using the CFPB in nefarious ways, with Congress powerless to intervene?

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