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  • Texas Attorney General leads 14-state brief to 5th Circuit challenging CFPB structure

    State Issues

    On July 10, the Attorney General of Texas and 13 other state Attorneys General filed an amici curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, challenging the constitutionality of the CFPB. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in April, the 5th Circuit agreed to hear a challenge by two Mississippi-based payday loan and check cashing companies to the constitutionality of the CFPB’s single-director structure in response to a CFPB action filed against the companies. The brief encourages the appellate court to disagree with the en banc decision of the D.C. Circuit, which upheld the Bureau’s structure (covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert). Instead, the Attorneys General argue, the court should find the structure unconstitutional rendering “all its actions unlawful.” The brief poses similar arguments to past challenges, including (i) the director should be removable at will by the president and (ii) the president’s removal power should only be restricted for multi-member commissions.

    Notably, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York recently disagreed with the D.C. Circuit decision, concluding the CFPB’s organizational structure is unconstitutional and terminated the Bureau as a party to an action because the agency lacked the authority to bring claims under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). (Previously covered by InfoBytes here.)

    State Issues Courts CFPB Succession Consumer Finance CFPA State Attorney General Single-Director Structure

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  • CFPB Succession: Leandra English steps down, seeks to dismiss appeal; Mulvaney selects close advisor to be new deputy

    Federal Issues

    On July 9, Leandra English filed a motion for voluntary dismissal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, effectively ending her eight-month legal battle over the appointment of Mick Mulvaney as acting director of the CFPB. The motion follows an announcement released via Twitter on July 6 that English will be stepping down from her position as deputy director of the Bureau “in light of the recent nomination of a new Director.” (As previously covered by InfoBytes, President Trump nominated Kathy Kraninger, currently serving as the associate director for general government at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to be the director of the Bureau for a five-year term.) In April, the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in English’s litigation. Unlike previous arguments, which focused on the president’s authority to appoint Mulvaney under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), the court spent considerable time discussing Mulvaney’s concurrent role as head of the OMB, and whether that dual role is inconsistent with the Bureau’s independent structure as established by the Dodd-Frank Act. A decision was pending at the time English submitted her dismissal of the case.

    Following English’s resignation, Mulvaney announced the selection of Brian Johnson as the Bureau’s acting deputy director. Johnson was Mulvaney’s first advisor hire at the Bureau, and he currently serves as a principal policy director. Prior to joining the Bureau, Johnson was a senior counsel at the House Financial Services Committee.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession CFPB FVRA Dodd-Frank English v. Trump Appellate D.C. Circuit

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  • CFPB, OCC, and FDIC release statement on HMDA exemption in regulatory relief act

    Federal Issues

    On July 5, the CFPB issued a statement regarding the implementation of the partial HMDA exemptions in the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the Act), S.2155/ P.L. 115-174, which was signed into law by President Trump on May 24. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Act provides an exemption from HMDA’s expanded data reporting requirements for banks and credit unions that originate fewer than 500 open-end and 500 closed-end mortgages (the provision would not apply to nonbanks and would not exempt institutions from HMDA reporting altogether). Although the statement emphasizes that the Act will not affect the format of the Loan/Application Register (LAR) for HMDA data collected in 2018—which should still be formatted in accordance with the Filing Instructions Guide issued in February (covered by InfoBytes here)—the Bureau stated that it intends to provide guidance later this summer on the Act, including an exemption code for institutions that are not reporting a particular field due to the Act’s partial exemptions.

    Additionally, the statement reiterated the Bureau’s December 2017 announcement that it will not require resubmissions for 2018 HMDA data, unless there are material errors; and penalties will not be assessed with respect to errors in the 2018 data. The CFPB notes that institutions should focus the 2018 data collection on identifying areas for improvement in their HMDA compliance management systems for future years. The Bureau further advised that it expects that supervisory examinations of 2018 HMDA data will be “diagnostic” to help “identify compliance weaknesses, and will credit good-faith compliance efforts.”

    The OCC issued a similar announcement with OCC Bulletin 2018-19. The FDIC issued a similar announcement with FIL-36-2018.

    Federal Issues CFPB CFPB Succession HMDA S. 2155 OCC Trump Mortgages EGRRCPA

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  • NY District Court holds CFPB structure is unconstitutional

    Courts

    On June 21, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York terminated the CFPB as a party to an action against a New Jersey-based finance company and its affiliates (defendants), concluding that the CFPB’s organizational structure is unconstitutional and therefore, the agency lacks authority to bring claims under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Bureau and the New York Attorney General’s office (NYAG) filed a lawsuit in in February 2017, claiming the defendants engaged in deceptive and abusive acts by misleading first responders to the World Trade Center attack and NFL retirees with high-cost loans by mischaracterizing loans as assignments of future payment rights, thereby causing the consumers to repay far more than they received. The defendants sought dismissal of the case, arguing that, among other things, “the CFPB’s unprecedented structure violates fundamental constitutional principles of separation of powers, and the CFPB should be struck down as an unconstitutional administrative agency.”

    The court denied the defendants’ motion as to the NYAG, finding that it had plausibly alleged claims under the CFPA and New York law and had the independent authority to pursue those claims.  But the court concluded that the CFPB lacked such authority, noting that it was not bound by the recent decision of the D.C. Circuit upholding the Bureau’s constitutionality in PHH v. CFPB (covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert).  The court instead adopted portions of two separate dissents from that decision to conclude that the Bureau’s single director structure is unconstitutional and that the defect cannot be remedied by striking the limitations on the president’s authority to remove the Bureau director because the “removal for cause” provision is “at the heart of Title X” of Dodd-Frank.  Quoting one of the PHH dissents, the court stated, “I would strike Title X in its entirety.” 

    The court also rejected an attempt by acting Director Mulvaney to salvage the Bureau’s claims.  Although the action was initiated by Director Cordray, the Bureau filed a notice in May ratifying that decision and arguing that, because the Bureau is currently led by an acting director who can be removed by the president at will, defendants’ motion to dismiss the Bureau’s claims should be denied.  The court disagreed, concluding that the constitutional issues presented in the case “are not cured by the appointment of Mr. Mulvaney” because “the relevant provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act that render the CFPB’s structure unconstitutional remain intact.”

    Courts PHH v. CFPB State Attorney General CFPB CFPB Succession Consumer Finance CFPA Single-Director Structure

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  • Trump intends to nominate Kathleen Kraninger to be director of the CFPB

    Federal Issues

    On June 18, the White House announced President Trump’s selection of Kathleen Kraninger to be the director of the CFPB for a five-year term. Kraninger currently serves as the associate director for general government at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Prior to OMB, Kraninger worked at the Department of Homeland Security and in Congress on the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Bureau and director of OMB, supervises Kraninger in her current role. In a statement commending the selection, Mulvaney emphasized that Kraninger is likely to follow his example, “I have never worked with a more qualified individual than Kathy… I know that my efforts to rein in the bureaucracy at the [Bureau] to make it more accountable, effective, and efficient will be continued under her able stewardship.” While the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) required the president to nominate a new director prior to June 22nd, Mulvaney is likely to remain the acting Bureau director for the foreseeable future, as FVRA allows Mulvaney to continue in the acting capacity until the Senate confirms or denies Kraninger’s nomination. If Kranginger’s nomination fails, FVRA would allow Mulvaney to restart a new 210-day period as acting director of the Bureau and to continue serving if the president makes another nomination before that period ends.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession Trump OMB

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  • District Court denies joint request to stay payday rule but agrees to stay lawsuit

    Courts

    On June 12, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas denied a joint request by the CFPB and two payday loan trade groups to stay the compliance date (August 19, 2019) of the Bureau’s final rule on payday loans, vehicle title loans, and certain other high-cost installment loans (Rule) until 445 days after final judgment in the pending litigation. The court declined to provide an explanation for the denial, but did grant the parties’ joint request to stay the lawsuit pending further court order. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the payday loan trade groups filed a lawsuit in April asking the court to set aside the Rule on the grounds that, among other reasons, the CFPB is unconstitutional and the Bureau’s rulemaking failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act. On May 31, the parties filed a joint request to stay the lawsuit and the compliance date for the Rule because of the Bureau’s plans to reconsider the Rule, which may repeal or revise certain provisions rendering the case moot or otherwise resolved.

    Courts State Issues CFPB Payday Rule CFPB Succession Federal Issues Single-Director Structure

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  • CFPB dismisses PHH suit and removes all members of three advisory councils

    Federal Issues

    On June 7, acting Director of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, dismissed the Bureau’s action against PHH, which spawned years of litigation and a constitutional challenge to the CFPB’s structure. In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued its en banc decision concluding the CFPB’s structure is constitutional but affirmed the October 2016 panel opinion that the CFPB misinterpreted RESPA and its statute of limitations (covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert). The $109 million penalty imposed on PHH by the CFPB was vacated and the case was sent back to CFPB leadership for review. On June 6, in response to an order by Mulvaney, PHH and the Bureau’s enforcement counsel filed a joint statement addressing whether further proceedings were necessary and jointly recommended dismissal of the matter.

    On June 6, Mulvaney reportedly removed all current members of the Consumer Advisory Board (CAB), the Community Bank Advisory Council (CBAC), and the Credit Union Advisory Council (CUAC). In a blog post, the Bureau’s policy associate director for external affairs noted that the changes to the advisory boards were in response to the comments received from the Bureau’s Request for Information (RFI) on external engagements (previously covered by InfoBytes here). The comment period for the RFI closed on May 29. According to the blog, the Bureau will still continue its statutory obligation under the Dodd-Frank Act to convene the CAB and provide forums for the CBAC and the CUAC. The councils will be re-staffed with a smaller membership from the 2018 application and selection process. The changes come only a few days after it was reported that Mulvaney canceled his meeting with the CAB for the second time since he took on the acting director role.

     

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession CFPB PHH v. CFPB RESPA RFI Single-Director Structure

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  • CFPB Succession: Bureau asks court to stay payday rule litigation; Mulvaney: Bureau may resume PII collection; working on a fintech regulatory “sandbox”; will consider scale and frequency of violations in future actions

    Federal Issues

    On May 31, the CFPB filed a joint motion with two payday loan trade groups, requesting a stay of litigation pending the Bureau’s reconsideration of its final rule on payday loans, vehicle title loans, and certain other high-cost installment loans (Rule) and requesting a stay of the compliance date—currently set for August 19, 2019 for most substantive sections—of the Rule until 445 days after final judgment in the litigation. The motion argues that the stay is necessary for the duration of the rulemaking process because “the rulemaking process may result in repeal or revisions of the [Rule] and thereby moot or otherwise resolve this litigation.”  As previously covered by InfoBytes, on April 9, the payday loan trade groups filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas asking the court to set aside the Rule because, among other reasons, the CFPB is unconstitutional and the Bureau’s rulemaking failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act. The Bureau announced its intention to reconsider the Rule in January, and reiterated that intent in its Spring 2018 rulemaking agenda.   

    Additionally, acting Director of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, reportedly lifted the ban on the Bureau’s collection of personally identifiable information after an independent review concluded that “externally facing Bureau systems appear to be well-secured.” The ban was initially announced in December 2017, soon after Mulvaney began his acting role.

    On May 29, Mulvaney stated in response to a question at a luncheon hosted by the Women in Housing & Finance that the CFPB is working closely with the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on developing a regulatory “sandbox” for fintech companies—which would provide targeted regulatory relief for companies to test new consumer financial products. While he did not provide many details on the project, he did note the Bureau was reviewing similar state actions for guidance (as previously covered by InfoBytes, Arizona was the first state to create a regulatory sandbox for fintech innovation). Additionally, in response to another question, Mulvaney noted that the Bureau may begin to take into account the scale and frequency of violations when determining whether to take action against a company; a practice, according to Mulvaney, that was not done under previous leadership. When referring to his authority to decide when to pursue an action, he stated, “I think if [a company is] doing something less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the time, maybe…it's evidence of a lack of criminal intent, and maybe there's a good place ... for me to execute some prosecutorial discretion."

    Overall, Mulvaney’s remarks were consistent with previous comments about the direction of the Bureau, including his intention to end the practice of “regulation by enforcement” and his desire to move the CFPB under the Congressional appropriations process. He noted that he is still in the process of reviewing the public disclosure of consumer complaints and whether or not the Consumer Complaint Database will continue to be publicly available. Additionally, he was unable to provide a status update on the Bureau’s future debt collection rule (the Spring 2018 rulemaking agenda lists the rule in a “Proposed Rule Stage” and has the deadline for a notice of proposed rulemaking set for February 2019, see InfoBytes coverage here). Lastly, he reiterated the Bureau’s recent announcement that it is reviewing applications of the disparate impact doctrine under ECOA, stating that he is “reviewing all of [the Bureau’s] rules regarding ECOA, not just in auto lending” because Dodd-Frank requires that the Bureau “enforce federal consumer financial law consistently without regard to the status of the person.”   

    Federal Issues CFPB CFPB Succession Enforcement Fintech Payday Rule Single-Director Structure

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  • Trump signs legislation repealing CFPB auto guidance, Mulvaney praises action; CFPB to reexamine ECOA requirements

    Federal Issues

    On May 21, President Trump signed resolution S.J. Res. 57, which repeals CFPB Bulletin 2013-02 on indirect auto lending and compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). The president’s signature completes the disapproval process under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which began after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a letter in December 2017 to Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa) stating that “the Bulletin is a general statement of policy and a rule” that is subject to override under the CRA. The Senate passed the disapproval measure in April and the House approved it in the beginning of May. (Previously covered by InfoBytes here.)

    The repeal responds to concerns that the bulletin improperly attempted to regulate auto dealers, which the Dodd-Frank Act excluded from the Bureau’s authority. In a statement after the president’s signing, CFPB acting Director Mick Mulvaney praised the action and thanked the president and Congress for “reaffirming that the Bureau lacks the power to act outside of federal statutes.” He also stated that the repeal “clarifies that a number of Bureau guidance documents may be considered rules for purposes of the CRA, and therefore the Bureau must submit them for review by Congress. The Bureau welcomes such review, and will confer with Congressional staff and federal agency partners to identify appropriate documents for submission.”

    Additionally, acting Director Mulvaney announced plans to reexamine the requirements of ECOA, “[g]iven a recent Supreme Court decision distinguishing between antidiscrimination statutes that refer to the consequences of actions and those that refer only to the intent of the actor.” Although the decision is not identified, it is likely the June 2015 Supreme Court decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., which concluded that disparate impact claims are permitted under the Fair Housing Act but acknowledged some limitations on its application. (Covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert.) 

    Federal Issues CFPB CFPB Succession Congressional Review Act U.S. Senate U.S. House ECOA Auto Finance Dodd-Frank Fair Lending

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  • House approves repeal of CFPB’s 2013 indirect auto guidance

    Federal Issues

    On May 8, the House voted to repeal, under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), CFPB Bulletin 2013-02 (Bulletin) on indirect auto lending and compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Senate approved the resolution on April 18 and the White House issued a Statement of Administrative Policy supporting the Senate resolution; it is expected that President Trump will sign the measure soon.

    If the measure is successful, this would be the first time that Congress has used the CRA to repeal a regulatory issuance outside the statute’s general 60-day period. In December 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a letter to Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa) stating that “the Bulletin is a general statement of policy and a rule” that is subject to override under the CRA, which allowed for the Senate to introduce the resolution measure years after the CFPB released the Bulletin.

     

    Federal Issues Congressional Review Act Agency Rule-Making & Guidance GAO U.S. Senate U.S. House CFPB Succession CFPB Auto Finance

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