Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee, led by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) wrote a joint letter demanding that Trump reject any attempt to remove CFPB Director Richard Cordray prior to the expiration of his term in July 2018.
Currently, the head of the CFPB can only be removed for cause. That means any attempt to remove him prior to the expiration of his term would probably result in “enhanced judicial, congressional and public scrutiny,” the lawmakers wrote.
“While we understand that many powerful special interests would like to see Director Cordray leave, we urge you not to bow to their demands to initiate costly, meritless litigation, and we stand ready to oppose any efforts you may make to do so,” they wrote.
Republicans have long said Cordray wielded far too much power with far too little accountability. But the Democrats’ letter touted Cordray’s accomplishments as head of the CFPB, painting him as a valuable public servant.
“To date, the CFPB has returned nearly $12 billion to more than 27 million consumers harmed by illegal, predatory financial schemes,” the Democrats wrote. “Indeed, in the Bureau’s short five-year history, it has brought more than 100 cases against financial firms ranging from fraudulent debt collectors to payday lenders trapping borrowers in a cycle of debt.”
The lawmakers claimed Cordray had accomplished this even while there was a concerted effort to undermine his agency.
“It’s clear to us that Director Cordray has made significant strides in upholding our nation’s consumer protection laws and managing the complicated issues of diversity and inclusion at his agency,” they wrote. “He has done this despite repeated attempts by special interests to undermine, rollback, and limit his work and authority.”
While House Republicans have long argued for replacing the CFPB’s leadership structure with a five-member panel, the Democrats argued that any attempt to replace Cordray is really intended to undermine the agency’s authority.
“Any attempts to remove Director Cordray from his position are without historical precedent, and intended solely to distract the Director and the Bureau from its important work protecting servicemembers, students and other borrowers from financial predation,” they wrote. “We caution you not to engage in partisan litigation, particularly since it is likely to be unsuccessful and will needlessly divert government resources away from other important priorities.”
Congressional Democrats are drawing a line in the sand for President-elect Donald Trump: try to oust the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before his term is up, and there will be a fight.