GOP Rep Calls CFPB’s Chopra an ‘Extortionist’ in Heated House Hearing
Learn why a GOP House Financial Services Committee member called CFPB Director Rohit Chopra the 'greatest extortionist in the history of this country.'
Bureau head faces pointed comments from Republicans as agency releases Spring regulatory agenda.
If CFPB Director Rohit Chopra is the biggest extortionist in the federal government, as one Republican charged Wednesday, he is going to be a busy one during the next six months.
On Wednesday, Chopra was roasted by Republicans when he appeared before the House Financial Services Committee. The hearing came one day after the agency, and others, published their Spring regulatory agendas, which list regulations—proposed and final—they anticipate releasing in the next six months.
In his testimony before the House committee, Chopra highlighted some of those rules, saying that, for example, in October, the CFPB plans to propose a system in which consumers—and not credit unions or banks—control their financial data.
But Chopra’s remarks about upcoming rules were overshadowed by pointed comments about how he runs the agency.
“You use compliance bulletins, circulars, and advisory opinions to sow doubt and confusion in the marketplace,” Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., said as the hearing opened. “You vilify entire industries simply because they are politically unsavory in your opinion.”
Committee member Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., went one step further, telling Chopra, “You’ve become the greatest extortionist in the history of this country.”
Asked about that comment later during the hearing, Chopra said, “Obviously, it’s offensive.”
Inside the Republican Concerns
Specifically, Republicans criticized the bureau’s proposal to set credit card late fees, a plan to require financial institutions to report lending to women- and minority-owned businesses, and efforts to rein in so-called “junk fees.”
Republicans also cited a data breach at the agency earlier this year, saying that the CFPB cannot be trusted with sensitive financial information.
Chopra replied that the data breach involved an employee who emailed information about 250,000 consumers to a personal account. He added that no personal identifiable information was included, and that the employee no longer works at the agency.
Democrats, meanwhile, defended Chopra’s work at the agency.
The “CFPB has successfully combatted junk fees, relieved the burden of medical debt on consumers’ credit reports, fought back against housing discrimination and redlining, and held large financial institutions—like Wells Fargo—accountable for repeatedly breaking the law and harming people across America,” said House Financial Services Committee ranking Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters of California.
CFPB Regulatory Agenda
There were no large surprises in the CFPB’s regulatory agenda, which revealed the bureau is:
–Still considering whether to issue a proposed rule governing overdraft programs, while noting that some financial institutions have voluntarily stopped charging fees.
–Reviewing feedback from representatives of small businesses on the impact of the rule that would allow consumers—and not financial institutions—to control their financial data. Chopra said the agency has set an October deadline for that plan.
–Considering a final proposal that would limit credit card late fees charged to consumers. The agency did not provide details about how far along the CFPB is in developing the final rule.