- Win McNamee/Getty Images
- Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, asked Congress to strip some of the agency’s powers.
- The changes Mulvaney asked for would give Congress and the president more power over the agency.
- Liberal and consumer advocacy groups blasted the requests from Mulvaney, a top critic of the agency before he was picked to lead it.
Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said in a letter to Congress on Monday that the legislature should give less power to the … Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Mulvaney, who came into the CFPB after being named to the post by President Donald Trump in November, said in the CFPB’s semiannual report to Congress that the consumer watchdog should lose some of its independent regulation powers and funding stream.
In the letter, Mulvaney asked for four changes to the CFPB’s power:
- End the director’s authority to impose new regulation on companies without congressional approval.
- Shift the agency’s funding from an independent Federal Reserve allocation to a congressionally appropriated budget.
- Allow the president additional control and oversight of the director’s actions under executive authority.
- Name an in-house inspector general to review the CFPB’s actions.
The moves would change some of the regulatory and financial autonomy of the CFPB, which was originally designed to prevent political influence at the agency. Mulvaney, along with many Republican critics of the agency, have said the autonomy gives the watchdog too much power with too little congressional oversight. In turn, these critics argue, the CFPB can take unilateral action that harms businesses and consumers.
Soon after the letter’s release, progressive and consumer groups blasted the proposed changes as an attempt to gut the agency and prevent the CFPB from acting independently of the corporations it intends to regulate.
“Mick Mulvaney knows the work of the CFPB is extremely popular with consumers,” Karl Frisch, head of the liberal political group Allied Progress, said in a statement. “That is why he didn’t propose the outright elimination of the bureau – though that is effectively what he is seeking.”
Mike Litt, consumer campaign director at the liberal consumer nonprofit US Public Interest Research Groups, also blasted Mulvaney’s requests.
“As a member of Congress, Mick Mulvaney voted to outright get rid of the Consumer Bureau,” Litt said. “Now he is using his platform as acting director to promote his own agenda over the agency’s mission. He wants to take away the Bureau’s independence and then make it harder for it to do its job.”
Mulvaney’s tenure at the CFPB has been the subject of continued battles. Mulvaney came into conflict with former director Richard Cordray’s pick to lead the agency, Leandra English, at the very start of his tenure. And he has been engaged in a months-long war of words with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the brain child of the CFPB.
Mulvaney previously requested $0 in funding from Congress for the agency, saying the CFPB can operate on reserve funds for the time being.
The changes requested by Mulvaney are unlikely to come to fruition anytime soon given that Democrats could use a filibuster to block the changes in the Senate. Even if Mulvaney was to convince GOP lawmakers to slide the changes into a banking deregulation bill currently making its way through Congress, these additions would likely sink that measure.