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Waters Opposes Passage of Harmful Financial Services Appropriations Bill

Joins Committee Democrats in Fighting for Increased Consumer Protections

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Washington, DC, July 8, 2016 | comments
Last night, the House of Representatives passed a harmful Republican spending bill, H.R. 5485, which would underfund the nation’s financial services regulators for fiscal year 2017 and put consumer protection and financial stability at risk. Despite Democratic efforts to improve the bill through the amendment process, Republicans pushed through this legislation, which would make it harder for financial regulators to protect consumers, investors, and the entire financial system.

The bill “so gravely underfunds and undermines Wall Street Reform that it is fair to say it would expose us to another financial crisis,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, in floor remarks opposing the legislation.

For example, Waters noted that the legislation would “stab at the heart of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – the sole regulator tasked with protecting students, service members, seniors and other borrowers in the consumer lending marketplace” and “cut funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which oversees our growing, complex capital markets and needs sufficient resources to police them effectively.”

Waters, along with Reps. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Monetary Policy & Trade; Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets & GSEs; and Keith Ellison (D-MN), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, offered three amendments that sought to remove harmful provisions gutting the CFPB.

Two of the amendments would have removed sections 501 and 503 of the bill, which would subject the CFPB to the whims of the Congressional appropriations process. A third amendment would have removed section 505 of the bill, changing the CFPB from its effective Director-led structure to a commission of political appointees. The amendments failed, en bloc, by a vote of 179-243.

Waters also joined with Reps. Terri Sewell (D-AL), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) on an amendment to strike harmful language that would restrict the CFPB’s ability to rein in predatory payday lenders that trap vulnerable consumers in a never-ending cycle of debt. The amendment failed 182-240.

The full text of Waters’ floor statement during general debate on H.R. 5485 can be found below:

Mr. Speaker, here we go again.

It is appropriations season in the House of Representatives, so we know what that means: once again, the American public can bear witness to our Republican colleagues underfunding our Wall Street cops on the beat, and attacking Wall Street Reform with endless budget “riders.”

Indeed, by my count, there were thirty-four separate Republican amendments filed to the Rules Committee that would undermine, undercut, or underfund our financial regulators.

These amendments span the gamut of special interest giveaways – from undoing critical consumer protections, to exposing investors to financial predation, to undermining financial stability.

First, and perhaps most importantly, both the base bill and many of the amendments we’re considering today stab at the heart of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – the sole regulator tasked with protecting students, service members, seniors and other borrowers in the consumer lending marketplace. To name just a few of the provisions that would harm the CFPB, this bill would:

  • end the Bureau’s independent funding;
  • bog the CFPB down in gridlock by replacing its efficient Director structure with a partisan, bureaucratic Commission;
  • halt the Bureau’s efforts to end forced arbitration clauses in credit card contracts and give consumers their day in court;
  • rescind the CFPB’s guidance that helps to prevent racial and ethnic discrimination in automobile lending markets;
  • defund the Bureau’s efforts to stop predatory lending to borrowers looking to purchase a manufactured home; and
  • make it harder for the CFPB to bring enforcement actions against bad actors.

What’s more, the bill would halt the CFPB’s efforts to stop the “debt trap” created by predatory payday lending. As a report released just last month by my office revealed, these lenders are adept at skirting state-level laws. That’s why we need strong federal rules of the road. Unfortunately, this bill would ensure that payday lenders can continue to rip off our constituents and push them deeper into the cycle of debt.

Democrats will offer amendments today to remove these harmful provisions in the bill, and I urge all of my colleagues to support our efforts.

This bill also would cut funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which oversees our growing, complex capital markets and needs sufficient resources to police them effectively.

Republicans have shown us time and again that they don’t want the SEC to be able to do its job. That’s why they are proposing nearly 15 percent less than the SEC has said it needs to properly oversee the 26,000 market participants under its purview. It’s also 3 percent less than the agency received last year, which already was a shoestring budget for a regulator tasked with implementing and enforcing significant aspects of Dodd-Frank, the JOBS Act, and other important legislation.

To make matters worse, the bill along with Republican amendments, would limit critical information for investors in companies, by rescinding current or future disclosure requirements on CEO pay, climate change, conflict minerals, and political spending by big corporations, as well as limiting shareholders’ ability to elect directors to corporate boards.

Finally, the bill also undercuts the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), which keeps our financial system safe by looking out for systemic risk throughout the system and closing the gaps in our once-fractured regulatory framework.

Standing with other Democrats, I will offer amendments to strike some of the most harmful provisions of this bill. But make no mistake, even if these amendments were adopted, Democrats cannot support this legislation, which so gravely underfunds and undermines Wall Street Reform that it is fair to say it would expose us to another financial crisis.

I strongly urge my colleagues to oppose this harmful legislation and I yield back the balance of my time.

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