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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • Senate Banking Committee Announces Subcommittee Assignments for 115th Congress

    Federal Issues

    On January 17, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), announced subcommittee assignments for the 115th Congress. The Senators named to head each subcommittee are listed below:

    • Dean Heller of Nevada will be the new chairman of the Securities, Insurance and Investment subcommittee. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia will continue to serve as ranking member.
    • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania will remain chairman of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection subcommittee. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will be the new ranking member.
    • Tom Cotton of Arkansas will become chairman of the Economic Policy subcommittee. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota will be the new ranking member.
    • Ben Sasse of Nebraska will chair the National Security and International Trade and Finance subcommittee. Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana will serve as ranking member.

    Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina will continue to chair the Housing, Transportation and Community Development subcommittee. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey will remain ranking member.

    Federal Issues Banking Mortgages U.S. Senate Congress

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  • Senate Republicans Announce Three New Banking Committee Members

    Federal Issues

    On January 3, 2017, Senate Republican leadership released committee assignments for the 115th Congress, and in the process, announced the addition of three new Republican members of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. Specifically, Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) have been assigned to the Committee, replacing Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who was reassigned, David Vitter (R-La.), who retired last year, and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who lost his re-election bid. Looking ahead, committee chairs will be selected next week following a vote of the members of each respective committee and then ratified by the Senate Republican Conference.

    Federal Issues Banking U.S. Senate U.S. House Congress

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  • CFPB Releases Annual Report to Congress on Transparency, Accountability in 2016

    Federal Issues

    On January 3, the CFPB announced the release of its annual report to the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations for 2016. The report—which covers October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016—identifies the specific responsibilities that the Dodd-Frank Act tasked to the CFPB and explains how the Bureau has attempted to meet those responsibilities. Among other things, the report describes Bureau regulations and guidance related to the Dodd-Frank Act including, but not limited to: (i) a proposed rule on arbitration; (ii) a proposed rule related to payday loans, vehicle title loans, and other similar credit products; (iii) a final rule to amend various provisions of the mortgage servicing rules implementing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Truth in Lending Act; and (iv) a final rule amending Regulation C, implementing the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The report also includes descriptions of the Bureau’s supervisory activities and enforcement actions undertaken by in the 2016 fiscal year.

    Federal Issues Mortgages Consumer Finance CFPB Dodd-Frank RESPA HMDA U.S. Senate U.S. House Regulation C TILA

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  • Senate Approves Law Facilitating Punishment of Corrupt Foreign Officials

    Federal Issues

    On December 8, Congress passed the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, which now awaits President Obama's signature. Championed by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, and John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, the bill gives the President of the United States the authority to deny human rights abusers and corrupt officials entry into the United States or access to our financial institutions. The bipartisan legislation builds on the Russia-specific Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2013 to apply sanctions globally, and makes significant acts of corruption sanctionable offenses.

    Federal Issues International U.S. Senate Obama Financial Institutions

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  • Congress Approves 10-Year Extension of Iran Sanctions Act

    Federal Issues

    On December 1, the U.S. Senate, by a 99-0 margin, passed a 10-year extension of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) sending the measure to the White House and delaying any potentially tougher actions until next year. Originally approved in 1996, the extended bill passed onto the Senate in November with only one vote against it from the House. Congressional authority to enforce sanctions against Iran—which was due to expire on December 31 if not renewed—will be presented to President Barack Obama, who will decide whether to sign the bill into law in the coming days.

    Federal Issues International Sanctions U.S. Senate U.S. House OFAC Obama

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  • FCC Denies Petition by MBA to Exempt Certain Mortgage Servicing Calls from Prior Express Consent Requirement

    Federal Issues

    In an order dated November 15, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau denied a petition by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) that sought an exemption from the FCC’s prior express consent requirement for non-telemarketing residential mortgage servicing auto-dialer calls to wireless numbers. In its order, the Bureau concluded that MBA had failed to show (1) that the calls in question would be free of charge to consumers; and (2) that the parties seeking relief should be able to send non-time-sensitive calls to consumers without their consent.

    Among other things, the Order explained that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) “reflects Congress’ recognition of the potential costs and privacy risks imposed on wireless consumers from the use of auto-dialer equipment, which can generate large numbers of unwanted calls” and accordingly, the FCC has generally attempted to balance and accommodate the legitimate business interests of callers in addition to recognized consumer privacy interests.

    Federal Issues Consumer Finance TCPA FCC U.S. Senate U.S. House Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

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  • PHH Response Due Date Pushed Back as Solicitor General Permitted to Respond to CFPB's Petition in PHH Corp. v. CFPB by December 22


    As discussed previously, the D.C. Circuit ordered PHH to respond to the CFPB’s petition for en banc review of the October 2016 three-judge panel decision in PHH Corp. v. CFPB. In an Unopposed Motion for Leave to file the United States' Response, filed December 1, the Office of the Solicitor General sought permission to file its own responsive briefing on or before December 22. In an Order issued December 1, the D.C. Circuit granted the Solicitor General’s request, but also moved back the due date for PHH’s responsive papers so that both responses are now due on December 22.

    Earlier in the week, on November 30, two groups filed amicus briefs in support of the CFPB’s petition together along with motions requesting an invitation from the court. The first brief was submitted by a group of leading consumer protection organizations, while the second brief was filed by a group of 21 current and former members of Congress.

    Courts Consumer Finance CFPB U.S. Senate U.S. House PHH v. CFPB

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  • Congress Seeks Answers from Bank CEO and Federal Bank Regulators

    Consumer Finance

    On September 20, the CEO of a major national bank faced questions from the House Financial Services Committee over consumer account practices uncovered during a recent enforcement action by the CFPB. The CEO will return to Capitol Hill on September 29 for additional testimony in front of the Committee. In addition, the Director of the CFPB and the Comptroller of the Currency faced scrutiny from the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs on their agencies awareness of, and failure to prohibit, the bank’s alleged actions for more than two years. In prepared testimony, Director Cordray indicated that the civil penalty levied against the bank was the “largest fine by far that the Consumer Bureau has imposed on any financial company to date” calling it a “dramatic amount as compared to the actual financial harm to consumers” but also “justified here by the outrageous and abusive nature of these fraudulent practices on such an enormous scale.” Director Cordray further stated that this enforcement action should help clarify how the CFPB will continue to analyze and enforce the prohibition on “abusive” practices under its mandate.  Meanwhile Comptroller Curry explained how this enforcement action demonstrates the complimentary roles played by the OCC and the CFPB in supervising bank practices.

    CFPB OCC U.S. Senate U.S. House Senate Banking Committee House Financial Services Committee

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  • CFPB Responds to Senators' Request to Tailor Regulations to Exempt Smaller Financial Institutions

    Consumer Finance

    On August 17, CFPB Director Cordray responded to a request, from a 70 senator coalition spearheaded by Senators Donnelly (D-IN) and Sasse (R-NE), that the CFPB further tailor its regulations that may be “unduly burdensome” for community banks and credit unions. In Cordray’s response, he stated that the CFPB is committed to achieving well-tailored and effective regulations within the provisions of Dodd-Frank. Further, Cordray outlined already-in-place exemptions for small creditors, various actions taken to ensure the CFPB’s “commitment” to maintaining effective regulations, and highlighted the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act (SBREFA) panel as “just one part of the Bureau’s broader initiatives to address the unique issues facing small financial institutions.” Cordray did, however, note that one of the CFPB’s objectives is to “enforce Federal consumer financial law ‘consistently, without regard to the status of a person as a depository institution.’”

    CFPB Dodd-Frank U.S. Senate Community Banks Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

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  • Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing to Discuss FCC's Proposed Privacy Rules

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On May 11, the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law of the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled “Examining the Proposed FCC Privacy Rules.” Present at the hearing were witnesses FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, and FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen. The focal point of the hearing was the FCC’s proposed rule (which comes after its Open Internet Order released in February 2015, designed to preserve net neutrality) on broadband internet services, which is, according to proponents of the proposal, intended to ensure that consumers’ personal information is adequately protected when Internet Service Providers (ISP) collect information on consumers using their products. According to FCC Chairman Wheeler’s opening remarks, the FCC’s proposed rule governing the privacy and security of consumer data is built on “transparency, choice, and security.” Commission members Pai and O’Reilly oppose the proposal, with Commissioner Pai commenting at the hearing that the proposal imposes “stringent regulation” on ISPs, in spite of Commissioner Wheeler’s November 2015 statement before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology that the FCC “would ‘not be regulating the edge providers differently’ from ISPs.” In contrast to the FCC’s proposal, the FTC maintains a unified approach toward regulating ISPs and other online actors. Speaking to the FTC’s efforts to protect consumer information, Chairwoman Ramirez’s and Commissioner Ohlhausen’s joint testimony summarized the FTC’s enforcement, policy, and education work related to consumer privacy and highlighted recent FTC and FCC joint enforcement actions. According to Senator Leahy’s (D-VT) opening remarks, the FCC’s recent proposal raises the question as to whether FCC regulation of specialized broadband privacy issues is “unnecessary in light of the FTC’s general enforcement power.” Advocates of the FCC’s proposal, such as Senator Leahy, maintain that the FTC’s case-specific enforcement power cannot be a substitute for the FCC’s “expert rulemaking process”; while those in opposition, such as FCC Commissioner Pai, argue that the proposal “makes little, if any, sense.” Comments on the FCC’s proposal are due by May 27, 2016, with the reply comment period ending June 27, 2016.

    FTC FCC U.S. Senate Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

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