Transition Tracker | Committee Appointment Updates

WHAT HAPPENED

House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) announced the appointment of four freshman Democrats to the House Financial Services Committee to replace members who have joined other committees or left office: Reps. Josh Gottheimer (NJ), Vicente Gonzalez (TX), Charlie Crist (FL), and Ruben Kihuen (NV).

House Financial Services Democrats sent a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump warning him against removing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray for cause before his term expires in 2018. “Any attempts to remove Director Cordray are without historical precedent, and intended solely to distract the Director and the Bureau from its important work,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge you not to bow to [special interests’] demands to initiate costly, meritless litigation, and we stand ready to oppose any efforts you make to do so.”

Republican Senators Ben Sasse (NE) and Mike Lee (UT) sent a letter to the Trump administration urging them to fire Director Cordray, emphasizing unconstitutionality of the Bureau’s structure and its lack of accountability. Under Director Cordray’s tenure, the CFPB has “advanced an overreaching regulatory agenda through enforcement actions instead of rulemakings—circumventing a process designed to provide notice and ensure that divergent perspectives are heard on regulatory issues,” the letter stated.

The House Steering Committee has announced Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Financial Services Subcommittee.

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee opened the confirmation process for President-Elect Trump’s Cabinet nominees by holding its first hearing on Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions. During the hearing, Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) asked Sessions for his opinion on Operation Choke Point, which Crapo described as a program “designed to target businesses and industries deemed politically unacceptable to the [Obama] Administration.” Sessions said he was not aware of the full details on Choke Point, but reiterated a pledge to the committee that he would stand against federal agencies using their regulatory power for political gains.

WHAT IT MEANS FOR AFSA MEMBERS

Many Congressional Democrats view themselves as the CFPB’s last line of defense, so AFSA expects them to continue to push back on Cordray’s removal as well as changes to the Dodd-Frank Act. However, new House Financial Services Committee members, Reps. Crist and Gottheimer, are members of the New Democrats Coalition – a group of moderate, pro-growth lawmakers, which indicates they may be receptive to AFSA’s priority of CFPB reform.

AFSA is encouraged by Senators Sasse and Lee’s letter to the Trump Administration, indicating that the Senate will also focus on CFPB reform this year. AFSA also has a good relationship with new Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Tom Graves, which may be helpful during the budget reconciliation process.

WHAT AFSA IS DOING

AFSA is continuing its outreach to Republican and Democrat members of Congress regarding CFPB reform.