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CFPB focus of hearing new bill
WASHINGTON (3/17/11)--The single Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director proposed by the Dodd-Frank Act would be replaced by a five-member, bipartisan panel if the “Responsible Consumer Financial Protection Regulations Act,” which was introduced by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) on Wednesday, becomes law. Bachus released the bill shortly after a Wednesday House Financial Services Committee hearing on CFPB oversight. That hearing featured testimony from CFPB architect Elizabeth Warren. Warren defended her agency during the hearing, saying that the country “would not be in the mess we are today" if the CFPB had existed six to eight years ago. "The consumer bureau’s mission is straightforward -- make prices clear, make risks clear, so consumers can compare one product to two or three others," Warren said. She also repeated what she told credit union representatives earlier this month: that one of the CFPB’s first missions would be to combine current mortgage disclosure requirements into a single page document that is easier for mortgage providers and holders to understand. Warren made her remarks to credit unions at the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference earlier this month. At the hearing, Warren said that the CFPB would work with credit unions and other small institutions as it pursues this and other rulemaking priorities, and added that the agency would protect credit unions and community banks as it develops and revamps regulations. On the legislative front, Bachus in a release said that the bill would “ensure that a non-partisan, balanced approach to consumer protection prevails” at the CFPB. “Empanelling a five-member commission is an important first step in ending predatory financial practices without inappropriately limiting access to credit that small businesses and individuals want and need. We can achieve consumer protection without a credit czar,” he added. He noted that several other regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and the Federal Trade Commission have similar leadership structure, and that structure has worked well for those regulatory groups. A five-member CFPB panel was considered by the House last year, but that concept was dropped when the Dodd-Frank legislation went to a Senate conference committee prior to passage. The CFPB will take over a number of regulatory roles from the Federal Reserve and other agencies on July 21. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) will remain independent and credit unions holding under $10 billion in assets will not be examined by the CFPB. The NCUA will have a seat on a pending regulatory council.


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