Removing Barriers Blog

Why Did CUNA Weigh in on CFPB Director Dispute Litigation?
Posted December 13, 2017 by Chandler Schuette

Yesterday, Credit Union National Association, on behalf of America’s credit unions and their 110 million members, filed an amicus brief in the case, English v. Trump.  We filed this brief because credit unions have a strong interest in the operation and the leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And, credit unions’ structure, mission and history gives us a unique perspective on these matters.  

Credit unions’ mission is to promote thrift and provide access to credit for provident purposes. Member owned, not for profit, financial cooperatives, credit unions are the original consumer protectors in the financial services sector. And, the Credit Union National Association is a leader in advocating consumer financial protection, helping to found the Consumer Federation of America in the 1960s and standing as one of the only financial services groups to not outright oppose the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau several years ago.  

Credit unions are owned by consumers, serve consumers and seek to ensure consumers have access to safe and affordable financial services, making us different than other stakeholders in this case.  

We filed this brief because all credit unions are subject to rulemaking by the Bureau and credit unions with more than $10 billion in assets are subject to CFPB supervision. They need certainty. Certainty in the rules they must follow. Certainty in the legitimacy of the regulator writing and enforcing those rules.  

The donnybrook at the CFPB creates tremendous uncertainty for credit unions and their members.  

The CFPB has final rules waiting to be implemented. It has potential future rules in the pipeline. It has examiners in the doors of credit unions. Every rule change and every hour an examiner is in the credit union costs credit union members money, complicating the delivery of safe, affordable financial services.  When the leadership of the Bureau is uncertain, it adds insult to injury for credit unions who seek commonsense regulation.  

As Ballard Spahr describes in more detail, we filed this brief because we think that despite the leadership dispute, the law is very clear that the president has the authority to appoint a temporary successor in the event of a vacancy at the Bureau.  

Even though we believe the law on this matter is clear, the sad truth is that the controversy was avoidable. If there had been a commission in place at the CFPB, there would be absolutely no question who would be leading the agency right now.  

A CFPB commission is not a new concept: Republicans and Democrats – including Senator Warren and President Obama – have supported a commission before walking away from it when it was convenient to do so.  But we think a commission makes commonsense. It would ensure that multiple voices are at the rulemaking table. It would help protect consumers against poor policymaking that result from political grandstanding like we have seen in recent weeks and years. And, it would ensure that we don’t run into a situation like this again.  

A CFPB commission is a commonsense solution that we hope Congress will enact as soon as possible.