WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) helped pass H.R. 1500 – the Consumers First Act. The legislation would restore and protect the enforcement ability of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Consumer Bureau), which was created to protect consumers in the marketplace after the financial crisis in 2008.
“Illinoisans elected me to fight for the people – not the special interests – and that’s exactly why I voted to strengthen the Consumer Bureau today,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “Big financial institutions need to be held accountable, and it’s been disappointing to watch this administration take the cops off the beat. Our bill would restore the bureau’s ability to fight for consumers – including students and servicemembers – and make sure there’s somebody looking out for the little guy in the financial marketplace.”
After the financial crisis, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to prevent another collapse from costing millions of Americans their jobs, pensions, homes and live savings. This legislation brought more accountability and transparency to the financial system – and ultimately created the Consumer Bureau to protect folks from predatory behavior in the financial marketplace.
Before the current administration kneecapped the agency, the Consumer Bureau had returned nearly $12 billion to 30 million American consumers who were victims of financial marketplace abuses. However, under the Trump Administration, enforcement actions from the Consumer Bureau have come to a grinding halt. In 2018, the Consumer Bureau took just 11 public enforcement actions – compared to 54 in 2015, 42 in 2016 and 36 in 2017. This represents a 75 percent reduction in enforcement under Trump appointees.
The Consumers First Act returns the Consumer Bureau to its intended role as a nonpartisan consumer watchdog that elevates the interests of American taxpayers above those of the special interests. This bill:
- Directs the leadership of the Consumer Bureau to reverse all anti-consumer actions taken under this administration, including resuming examinations of regulated entities to ensure active-duty servicemembers and their families are being protected from financial marketplace abuses;
- Reestablishes a dedicated student loan office to protect 44 million student loan borrowers against predatory practices in student lending;
- Requires adequate agency staffing, including for supervision and enforcement;
- Limits the number of political appointees that may be hired;
- Mandates that the consumer complaint database remain transparent and publicly accessible;
- Restores the supervisory and enforcement powers of the Consumer Bureau’s office tasked with combating discriminatory lending practices; and
- Reinstates the Consumer Advisory Board dismantled under Mr. Mulvaney’s term and adds new protections to ensure that the interests of consumers are fully represented.