CFPB Defenders: Chamber of Commerce, Bankers Endorsing Discrimination
Consumer advocacy groups defended the bureau following a lawsuit filed by the Chamber of Commerce and banking groups.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and major banking groups are overtly endorsing discrimination by filing suit against the CFPB challenging the agency’s power to police bias in the financial services industry, a consumer advocacy group is charging.
“If you try to convince the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association, and the Consumer Bankers Association that discrimination is unfair, you won’t get a ‘yes,’” said Americans for Financial Reform (AFR). “You get a lawsuit, with multiple awful lines of attack that stands a good chance of succeeding.”
A second group agreed.
“Apparently some in the business and banking community believe that discrimination is fair as long as it is profitable,” added Jesse Van Tol, president/CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), in response to the suit.
Background on the Issue
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the banking trade groups filed suit last week in federal court contending that CFPB officials exceeded their authority when they decided to investigate discrimination as part of their examination process.
The CFPB had amended the manual used by examiners, telling them to investigate discrimination as part of its investigations of Unfair, Deceptive or Abusive Acts or Practices (UDAAP) at financial institutions. The groups charged that the agency was overstepping its powers and that the bureau violated the federal law that requires regulations to be open for public comment.
They further alleged that the CFPB is illegally funded since it is not subject to the annual appropriations process.
The Chamber was joined by the American Bankers Association and their Texas affiliates in the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. No credit union trade group joined the Chamber and the banking groups in filing the suit.
Pushback from Consumer Advocates
Americans for Financial Reform charged that the groups are trying to protect the power of big banks to discriminate and that they are exploiting the rightward turn of the judiciary and the Supreme Court’s penchant for siding with corporate interests.
“And [the suit] includes as one goal the long-held aspiration of the bank lobby to destroy a key pillar of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the only federal agency devoted to protecting consumers in the market for financial services,” they alleged.
AFR said that the CFPB’s authority for policing discrimination comes from the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. And the group added that the Chamber and the bankers are trying to “drag their disputes” with the agency into a more favorable arena, noting that the suit was filed in the Fifth Circuit, “which Trump appointees have turned into a right-wing bastion, and drew a judge infamous for overturning an eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Van Tol of the NCRC sounded a similar note, calling the suit a “disingenuous and dangerous attack on the American public’s right to fair treatment.”