Congresswoman Beatty Questions Consumer Protection Director Kraninger on Commitment to Consumers
The House Financial Services Committee recently held a hearing entitled “Putting Consumers First? A Semi-Annual Review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” to hear testimony from Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Kathy Kraninger. This marked the first time Kraninger testified before the full Committee since she was confirmed by the Senate in December 2018.
U.S. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Chair of the Committee on Financial Services Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee, extensively questioned Kraninger about the CFPB’s compliance with Section 342 of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203) which established Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWIs) in federal financial regulatory agencies to track their workforce and supplier diversity efforts. The CFPB’s OMWI Director is currently Laura McCray.
During questioning from Beatty, Kraninger said, “Laura (McCray) and I are both new, and she knows I am committed to ensuring her office does have the adequate resources.” She went on to affirm her personal commitment to OMWI.
However, when it comes to holding companies accountable for abusive and fraudulent behavior against their customers, Kraninger was less transparent. “Are you aware of the ‘Mulvaney Discount,’ and do you plan on continuing it,” Beatty asked. “Because it exists, and I can give you case after case.” In response, Kraninger would only say, “Every enforcement case has its own facts” and that “these are negotiated settlements.” An archived recording of their interaction can be viewed on Beatty official YouTube page.
Under President Trump’s hand-picked Acting Director Mick Mulvaney, the CFPB first paused its consumer enforcement, but later began fining law-breaking companies astronomically low or significantly reduced civil penalties based on their “inability to pay.” In one particular case, the CFPB charged $1 to a company found guilty of defrauding veterans by offering high-interest cash advances in exchange for a percentage of their pensions. The practice has become so frequent that it is now commonly referred to as the ‘Mulvaney Discount.’
In an effort to combat the Trump Administration’s anti-consumer agenda, Beatty signed on as an original cosponsor of Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters’ (CA-43) Consumers First Act, H.R. 1500. The bill aims to strengthen the CFPB and its important mission to protect American consumers and hardworking families. H.R. 1500 has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee, and Chairwoman Waters had indicated that the bill will be acted on in the near future.