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Principled, Conservative Leader

Americans need protection from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

by Jeb Hensarling and Roger Williams

April 12, 2017

Few Americans are familiar with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but it is the most powerful and least accountable Washington bureaucracy in history and a perfect example of the political left’s dangerous belief that the ends always justify the means.

While the agency has an important mission, it was purposefully designed by Democrats to evade checks and balances that apply to other regulatory agencies, including those responsible for consumer and investor protection. Its bizarre, unique and defective design is exactly why a panel of federal judges ruled that the CFPB is structurally unconstitutional.

In its present form, the agency is an affront to the Constitution, to checks and balances and to due process. This is why we support the Financial CHOICE Act, legislation that changes the CFPB from an unconstitutional agency of unelected bureaucrats into a constitutional and accountable civil enforcement agency that enforces consumer protection laws written by Congress.

The CFPB’s current director, Richard Cordray, recklessly ignores the due process protections that have been deeply rooted in our American legal system for centuries. This abuse may generate headlines, but it does not achieve justice. The Dodd-Frank Act grants him incredibly broad powers to regulate consumer credit products, yet Cordray continues to ignore the law and the intent of Congress by making end-runs around existing laws.

In the legal decision that declared the agency’s structure unconstitutional, the court found that Cordray unilaterally reinterpreted the law and then essentially created his own law after the fact. In addition, the court said Cordray ignored the statute of limitations to justify imposing a huge fine on an American business. This is an outrageous violation of due process rights.

Another example of the agency’s violation of due process relates to its use of “unfair, deceptive or abusive acts and practices,” or UDAAP, authority. Citing the largely undefined and amorphous UDAAP is CFPD’s go-to claim, leaving plenty of wiggle room for the director to decide what the law says and means. The agency could provide clarity by writing rules to define UDAAP further, but refuses. Thus, CFPD deprives legally operating businesses of the information they need to follow the law when developing new products and services that benefit consumers. Given that Cordray was already found to have ignored legal protections in order to impose a multi-million-dollar fine on a company, clearly this UDAAP authority is a legitimate cause of concern.

Republicans and Democrats agree that the laws on the books must be enforced. Where we disagree is over whether unelected bureaucrats should have the power to write new laws. As currently structured, the CFPD has virtually unlimited power to do just that — and is harming consumers with higher costs and less access to financial products and services as it does.

The changes we seek through the Financial CHOICE Act will truly make the CFPB the “cop on the beat” its supporters claim they want. Cops don’t write the laws; they investigate and enforce the laws — and they don’t serve as cop on the beat, judge, jury and Congress all rolled into one.

It would be far easier to secure criminal convictions if the Constitution didn’t require probable cause for warrants or protect Americans against unreasonable search and seizure, but few would argue that justice would be served. In the same way, the success of the CFPB must be judged both on how it protects consumers and on whether it follows the Constitution.

In this debate, we must also remember that true consumer protection puts power in the hands of consumers, not Washington bureaucrats. True consumer protection promotes competition and choice and ensures that consumers have access to transparent and innovative markets that are vigorously policed for fraud and deception. In fact, the Financial CHOICE Act contains the toughest penalties in history for those who commit financial fraud, insider trading and deception. Our plan toughens penalties — not out of some ideological or poll-driven war against “Wall Street” — but to better protect consumers, restore checks and balances, defend due process and strengthen our markets.

Dallas lawmaker wants Trump to say `You're fired` to consumer financial protection bureau head

April 5, 2017

WASHINGTON — Rep. Jeb Hensarling wants President Donald Trump to direct his signature catchphrase at Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: "You're fired."

The Dallas Republican revived his long-running feud with Cordray in a combative hearing he chaired Tuesday in the House financial services committee, kicking off a series of barbs from GOP critics of the agency.

"For conducting unlawful activities, abusing his authority and denying market participants due process, Richard Cordray should be dismissed by our President," Hensarling said.

Hensarling did not stop at Cordray, adding that the entire agency should be eliminated, too.

The Texas delegation to the U.S. House, from right to left

February 28, 2017

In the 114th Congress (2015-16), the Texas delegation’s roll-call voting behavior once again demonstrated that Texas Republicans are, on average, notably more conservative than their fellow congressional Republicans. Likewise, Texas Democrats are on average notably more conservative than their fellow congressional Democrats. The data also reveal how the competitiveness of representatives’ congressional districts can influence their floor behavior. Separately, they show the quite different ideological profiles of two Texas Democrats considering 2018 U.S. Senate runs.

Hensarling ready to make final term as House Financial Services chairman count

February 19, 2017

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling has one more term left as House Financial Services chairman. With a Republican in the White House, he is ready to make it count.

The Dallas Republican is heading the GOP effort to gut Obama-era financial reforms as the head of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services. And in a city where relationships mean everything, his best friends are two of the most powerful people in the government: Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“I pick the best friends,” he said, smiling.

All three men share a passion for limited government, particularly in the American economy. And amid the early turbulence of the Trump era, this political trifecta is positioned to wield enormous influence over how money moves through the world economy.

How We’ll Stop a Rogue Federal Agency

By Jeb Hensarling

February 10, 2017

Congress can defund Elizabeth Warren's unaccountable and unconstitutional CFPB.

The Obama presidency placed no greater burden on America’s growth potential than the avalanche of regulations that smother the U.S. economic system. The most destructive and dangerous of the new regulatory bureaucracies created by the Democrat-dominated 111th Congress is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Earmarks weaken Congress, won't drain the swamp

February 9, 2017

In November the American people voted to give Republicans unified control over Congress and put Donald Trump in the White House because, in large part, we pledged to "drain the swamp" — that corrupt political culture prevailing in our nation's capital that enables elites to manipulate the levers of government to their advantage.

Changing business as usual in Washington is a tough fight. But we would be going the wrong way if Republicans were to lift the current ban on earmarks — those infamous provisos attached to spending bills that funnel taxpayer money to pet projects and parochial interests — as some have proposed.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling on financial reform: 'Dodd-Frank clogs the arteries of capitalism'

February 8, 2017

Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who chairs the powerful House Financial Services Committee, is pushing his broad-brush redo of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to Wall Street and his congressional colleagues.

The Texas Republican introduced his Financial Choice Act last year, which would eliminate a ban on certain investments, the Financial Stability Oversight Council's ability to label firms that pose risks to the wider financial system, and regulators' ability to intervene when banks fail. He's set to unveil an updated version as soon as this week.

The bill never made it to the floor last year, but it's likely to become the starting point for their efforts this year.

Rep. Hensarling: Dodd-Frank is to household finances as Obamacare is to health care

February 7, 2017

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), House Financial Services Committee chair, discusses the efforts to dismantle financial regualtions.

Conservatives: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

February 1, 2017

Conservative lawmakers banded together Tuesday to send a message to their Republican colleagues: Don’t bring back earmarks.

"If you start going down this road, you will lose the House of Representatives," Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis said at an anti-earmark event hosted by the Republican Study Committee.

"I never thought I’d have to be part of getting the earmark ban band back together," said Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, one of the Republican members who helped push for the earmark ban under former Speaker John A. Boehner.