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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing to address the “moving target” of CFPB’s recent actions

Federal Issues Hearing House Financial Services Committee CFPB Federal Reserve Overdraft

Federal Issues

On March 7, the House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing entitled, “Politicized Financial Regulation and its Impact on Consumer Credit and Community Development” to discuss recent actions and proposals, like mandated fee caps and government price fixing, by federal financial regulatory agencies. During the hearing, Congressman Barr (R-KY) criticized recent regulatory actions by federal authorities, particularly the Biden Administration and the CFPB, which he saw as politically-motivated interventions in the financial sector. He expressed concern over the implementation of fee caps and price controls, like the CFPB’s new rule on credit card late fees (covered by InfoBytes here), which he believed could impact consumer access to credit and competition. Barr argued that these regulations served political interests rather than protecting consumers, dismissing the concept of "junk fees" as undefined and hypocritical as the CFPB charges fees itself. Barr also discussed the need for clear standards in enforcement actions under UDAAP to provide certainty to financial institutions and foster a more inclusive market. He criticized other regulatory proposals, such as the Community Reinvestment Act final rule and the new certification process for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, for potentially overreaching into the operations of financial institutions.

Barr contended the timing of the CFPB's most recent rule announcement, which was close to President Biden's State of the Union address, alleged a political agenda rather than an independent regulatory action. A witness policy analyst also shared that using financial regulation for political gain can negatively impact consumer credit. The analyst addressed the CFPB’s recent actions against overdraft fees and cited a May 2023 CFPB report which noted that revenue from overdraft and insufficient fund fees in the fourth quarter of 2022 was $1.5 billion lower than in the fourth quarter of 2019 and that many banks have already adjusted their overdraft practices––making the Bureau’s proposals unwarranted. Witnesses also argued how smaller banks and credit unions do not boast the same revenue nor goals as some larger banks, and that regulations should not be a “one size fits all” model.