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CFPB commission bill is déjà vu all over again

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Industry groups on Thursday cheered the introduction of a new bill from U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., that would reform the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from a single, presidentially appointed director to a bipartisan, multiperson commission.

A variety of bills have been introduced going back to at least 2015 that would change the bureau – some in more substantial ways than others – and none have been signed into law. Many times, including a bill last spring, those proposals have been defeated along party-line votes.

Nevertheless, credit union groups on Thursday cheered Luetkemeyer’s proposal, as the industry has argued for years that – short of exempting credit unions from the bureau completely – it should at least have a more diverse leadership structure. The bill offered Wednesday would establish a five-person commission appointed by the president serving five-year staggered terms. It also explicitly gives the president the authority to remove any member of the commission, an issue at the heart of a Supreme Court hearing earlier this week that could determine the future of the agency.

The National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions thanked the Missouri Republican and pledged to work toward the bill’s passage, but President and CEO Dan Berger also praised the CFPB’s current director.

"To date, CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger has been receptive, transparent and open to listening to the needs of credit unions,” Berger said in a press release. “Until Congress acts to change the CFPB's leadership structure, we look forward to continuing to work with Director Kraninger. More so, we will continue to staunchly oppose subjecting credit unions to CFPB authority, and we will continue to push for the bureau to exempt credit unions from its rulemakings.”

The Credit Union National Association also chimed in.

“The CFPB has the broadest regulatory reach of any financial agency, and consumers, financial institutions and the American economy deserve nothing less than transparency and stability at the CFPB, despite any shifts in the political landscape,” CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle said in a press release.

Short of any changes taking place in Congress – which most sources say is unlikely during an election year – there could be no real clear direction for the bureau’s future until the Supreme Court rules. A decision is expected in either May or June.

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