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  • Respondents urge Supreme Court to wait on CFPB funding review

    Courts

    On January 13, respondents filed a brief in opposition to a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by the CFPB last November, which asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit erred in holding that the Bureau’s funding structure violates the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution (covered by InfoBytes here). The Bureau also asked the Supreme Court to consider the 5th Circuit’s decision to vacate the agency’s 2017 final rule covering “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” (Payday Lending Rule or Rule) on the premise that it was promulgated at a time when the Bureau was receiving unconstitutional funding. The Bureau requested that the Supreme Court review the case during its current term, which would ensure resolution of the issue by the summer of 2023. Last December, a coalition of state attorneys general from 22 states, including the District of Columbia, filed an amicus brief supporting the Bureau’s petition for a writ of certiorari, while 16 states filed an amicus brief opposing the petition (covered by InfoBytes here).

    In their opposition brief, the respondents urged the Supreme Court to deny the Bureau’s petition on the premise that the 5th Circuit’s decision does not warrant review—“let alone in the expedited and limited manner that the Bureau proposes”—because the appellate court correctly vacated the Payday Lending Rule, which, according to the respondents, has “multiple legal defects, including but not limited to the Appropriations Clause issue.” Among other things, the respondents argued that the Bureau erroneously contended that the Appropriations Clause does not limit the manner in which Congress may exercise its authority, claiming that: (i) the Appropriations Clause ensures Congressional oversight of the federal fiscal and executive power; (ii) the Bureau’s funding statute nullifies Congress’s appropriations power in an unprecedented manner; (iii) the Bureau’s merit defenses, including claims that text, history, and precedent support its funding scheme, all fail; and (iv) the Bureau’s remedial defenses of the Payday Lending Rule also fail.

    The respondents also maintained that the case “is neither cleanly presented . . . nor ripe for definitive resolution at this time,” and argued that the Supreme Court could address the validity of the Payday Lending Rule without addressing the Bureau’s funding issue. Explaining that the 5th Circuit’s decision “simply vacated a single regulation that has never been in effect,” the respondents claimed that the appellate court should have addressed questions about the Rule’s validity before deciding on the Appropriations Clause question. The respondents claimed that the appellate court incorrectly rejected two antecedent grounds for vacating the Payday Lending Rule: (i) the Rule’s “promulgation was tainted by the removal restriction later held invalid in Seila Law” (covered by a Buckley Special Alert); and (ii) the Rule exceeds the Bureau’s authority “because the prohibited conduct falls outside the statutory definition of unfair or abusive conduct.” “Given the significant prospect that this Court will be unable to resolve the constitutional question in this case, it should await a better vehicle,” the respondents wrote, adding that “[i]f and when some judgment in some future case has ‘major practical effects,’ [] the Bureau should seek this Court’s review then—which may well present a better vehicle.”

    Further, the respondents stated that if the Supreme Court grants review of the case, it “should proceed in a more deliberative fashion than the Bureau has urged.” The respondents asked the Supreme Court to expressly include the antecedent questions by either granting the respondents’ cross-petition or adding them to the Board’s petition in order to provide clarity about whether the Supreme Court intends to consider the alternative grounds. They further urged the Supreme Court to wait until next term to review the case, writing that the Bureau “cannot justify its demand for a case of this complexity and importance to be briefed, argued, and decided in a few months at the end of a busy Term.”

    Courts Appellate Fifth Circuit U.S. Supreme Court CFPB Constitution Payday Lending Payday Rule Enforcement

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  • States have their say on CFPB funding

    Courts

    Recently, a coalition of state attorneys general from 22 states, including the District of Columbia, filed an amicus brief supporting the CFPB’s petition for a writ of certiorari, which asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit erred in holding that the Bureau’s funding structure violates the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution. A separate coalition of 16 state attorneys general filed an amicus brief opposing the Bureau’s position and supporting the 5th Circuit’s decision, however these states also urged the Supreme Court to grant the Bureau’s petition to address whether the 5th Circuit’s conclusion was correct.

    As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, the 5th Circuit’s October 19 holding found that although the Bureau spends money pursuant to a validly enacted statute, the structure violates the Appropriations Clause because (i) the Bureau obtains its funds from the Federal Reserve (not the Treasury); (ii) the agency maintains funds in a separate account; (iii) the Appropriations Committees do not have authority to review the agency’s expenditures; and (iv) the Bureau exercises broad authority over the economy. The case involves a challenge to the Bureau’s Payday Lending Rule, which prohibits lenders from attempting to withdraw payments for covered loans from consumers’ accounts after two consecutive withdrawal attempts have failed due to insufficient funds. As a result of the 5th Circuit’s decision, lenders’ obligation to comply with the rule (originally set for August 19, 2019, but repeatedly delayed) will be further delayed while the constitutional issue winds its way through the courts. The Bureau’s petition also asked the court to consider the 5th Circuit’s decision to vacate the Payday Lending Rule on the premise that it was promulgated at a time when the Bureau was receiving unconstitutional funding. (Covered by InfoBytes here.)

    • Amicus brief supporting CFPB’s position. The 22 states urged the Supreme Court to review the 5th Circuit’s decision, arguing that the Bureau’s funding is lawful and that even if the Supreme Court were to find a constitutional defect in the funding scheme, vacating otherwise lawfully-promulgated regulations is neither justified nor compelled by law. “Left undisturbed, the court of appeals’ reasoning could jeopardize many of the CFPB’s actions from across its decade-long existence, to the detriment of both consumers protected by those actions and financial-services providers that rely on them to guide their conduct,” the states said. In their brief, the states argued, among other things, that the Supreme Court should grant the petition “to review at least the question of whether the court of appeals erred in vacating a regulation promulgated during a time when the CFPB received allegedly unconstitutional funding.” The states asserted that the decision “threatens substantial harm” to the states because the states and their residents “could stand to lose the benefits of the CFPB’s critical enforcement, regulatory, and informational functions if the decision [] stands and is interpreted to impair the CFPB’s ongoing operations.” With respect to questions related to the Bureau’s funding structure, the states claimed that it is altogether speculative as to whether the Bureau would have behaved differently if its funding had come from the Treasury rather than the Federal Reserve. Former Director Kraninger’s ratification and reissuance of the Payday Lending Rule “is strong evidence that the CFPB would have issued the same regulation once again, after any constitutional defect was corrected,” the states said.
    • Amicus brief opposing CFPB’s position. The 16 opposing states argued, however, that the Supreme Court should grant the Bureau’s petition to provide states with “certainty over their role” in regulating the financial system, and should affirm the 5th Circuit’s decision to “restore the CFPB’s accountability to the states.” In their brief, the states asked the Supreme Court “to resolve this issue quickly” and to “reinvigorate the protections of the Appropriations Clause, not weaken them.” The states maintained that if the Supreme Court does not quickly resolve the dispute, states “will have to litigate the same issue in other districts and circuits over and over,” and “[a]ny continuing confusion could seriously impede the growth of the consumer-financial services market at a time when the economy is already strained.” According to the brief, congressional oversight “ensures a level of state participation that ordinary administrative processes don’t allow.” In summary, the states’ position is that the 5th Circuit’s decision on the funding question is correct and that the court “was right to vacate a rule enacted without constitutional funding.”

    Courts Federal Issues State Issues CFPB Constitution State Attorney General Appellate Fifth Circuit Enforcement Payday Lending Payday Rule

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  • CFPB asks Supreme Court to review 5th Circuit decision

    Courts

    On November 14, the DOJ, on behalf of the CFPB, submitted a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit erred in holding that the Bureau’s funding structure violates the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution. The Bureau also asked the court to consider the 5th Circuit’s decision to vacate the agency’s 2017 final rule covering “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” (Payday Lending Rule) on the premise that it was promulgated at a time when the Bureau was receiving unconstitutional funding.

    The Bureau’s funding is derived through the Federal Reserve instead of the annual congressional appropriations process—a process, the appellate court said, that violates the Constitution. Specifically, the 5th Circuit’s October 19 holding (covered by a Buckley Special Alert) found that although the Bureau spends money pursuant to a validly enacted statute, the structure violates the Appropriations Clause because (i) the Bureau obtains its funds from the Federal Reserve (not the Treasury); (ii) the agency maintains funds in a separate account; (iii) the Appropriations Committees do not have authority to review the agency’s expenditures; and (iv) the Bureau exercises broad authority over the economy. The 5th Circuit also rejected the Bureau’s arguments that the funding structure was necessarily constitutional because it was created by and subject to Congress, and distinguished other agencies that are funded outside of the annual appropriations process.

    The case involves a challenge to the Bureau’s Payday Lending Rule, which prohibits lenders from attempting to withdraw payments for covered loans from consumers’ accounts after two consecutive withdrawal attempts have failed due to insufficient funds. As a result of the 5th Circuit’s decision, lenders’ obligation to comply with the rule (originally set for August 19, 2019, but repeatedly delayed) will be further delayed while the constitutional issue winds its way through the courts.

    “No other court has ever held that Congress violated the Appropriations Clause by passing a statute authorizing spending,” the Bureau argued as it requested a prompt Supreme Court review, asserting that the 5th Circuit’s decision “threatens to inflict immense legal and practical harms on the CFPB, consumers, and the Nation’s financial sector.” The agency also stressed that “[n]ew challenges to the Bureau’s rules and other actions can be expected to multiply in the weeks and months to come, and will presumably be filed in the 5th Circuit whenever possible.” The decision also has the potential to impact past enforcement actions and rulemaking as well, the Bureau said.

    The Bureau further asserted that while the 5th Circuit concluded that “‘an appropriation is required’ to authorize spending” and that “‘[a] law’ providing an agency with a funding source and spending authority ‘does not suffice,’” the appellate court failed to specify what would be required for such a law to qualify as an appropriation. 

    Moreover, the 5th Circuit’s reasoning was incorrect, the Bureau argued, because Congress specified that the agency could claim up to 12 percent of the Fed’s budget to fund its operations, and it is subject to, among other things, budget and financial oversight, government audits, and requirements that its director prepare and submit annual reports to the Senate and House appropriations committees concerning its fiscal operating plans and forecasts. These safeguards, the Bureau stressed, should assuage concerns about whether the agency is insulated from congressional oversight. “The court of appeals’ novel and ill-defined limits on Congress’s spending authority contradict the Constitution’s text, historical practice, and this Court’s precedent,” the Bureau said, adding that the decision also conflicts with a holding issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit where the appellate court recognized that “Congress can, consistent with the Appropriations Clause, create governmental institutions reliant on fees, assessments, or investments rather than the ordinary appropriations process.”

    The Bureau asked the Supreme Court to review the case during its current term, which would ensure resolution of the issue by the summer of 2023.

    Courts Appellate Fifth Circuit CFPB U.S. Supreme Court Constitution Enforcement Payday Lending Payday Rule

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  • Special Alert: Fifth Circuit finds CFPB funding unconstitutional — Now what?

    Courts

    The Fifth Circuit ruled last night in CFSA v. CFPB that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s funding structure is unconstitutional, triggering a potential wave of implications discussed below.

    The holdings

    A panel of three Fifth Circuit judges unanimously held that the CFPB funding structure created by Congress violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, which provides that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” It ruled that, although the CFPB spends money pursuant to a validly enacted statute, the structure violates the Appropriations Clause because the CFPB obtains its funds from the Federal Reserve (not the Treasury), the CFPB maintains funds in a separate account, the Appropriations Committees do not have authority to review the agency’s expenditures, and the bureau exercises broad authority over the economy. The court rejected the bureau’s arguments that the funding structure was necessarily constitutional because it was created by and subject to Congress, and distinguished other agencies that are funded outside of the annual appropriations process.

    Courts CFPB Special Alerts Appellate Fifth Circuit Constitution Enforcement Payday Rule

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  • District Court tosses challenge to CFPB’s payday rule

    Courts

    On January 14, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted two motions to dismiss a challenge to the Bureau’s 2020 final rule revoking certain underwriting provisions of the agency’s 2017 final rule covering “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” (Payday Lending Rule). As previously covered by InfoBytes, the final rule revokes, among other things (i) the provision that makes it an unfair and abusive practice for a lender to make covered high-interest rate, short-term loans or covered longer-term balloon payment loans without reasonably determining that the consumer has the ability to repay the loans according to their terms; (ii) the prescribed mandatory underwriting requirements for making the ability-to-repay determination; (iii) the “principal step-down exemption” provision for certain covered short-term loans; and (iv) related definitions, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements. The plaintiff (a national association of organizations serving Latino communities) filed suit alleging the Bureau’s 2020 final rule violated federal rulemaking requirements and arguing that the 2020 final rule rested on an “unreasonable” new evidentiary standard and advanced statutory definitions that “appear custom-designed to repeal the ability-to-repay protections” of the Payday Lending Rule. The plaintiff asked the court to overturn the repeal and order the Bureau to implement the 2017 Payday Lending Rule. Motions to dismiss for lack of standing were filed by the Bureau as well as an intervenor-defendant association.

    In dismissing the action, the court determined that the plaintiff failed to establish a “concrete and demonstrable injury to its activities” attributable to the 2020 final rule’s impact. The plaintiff contended that it suffered injury because the 2020 final rule made its work more difficult due to member organizations needing more assistance and resources from the plaintiff in order to “help families avoid or address unaffordable payday and title loans.” The court reasoned, however, that “[e]xpenditure of resources in response to agency action alone is not enough to establish a cognizable injury because it leaves step one of the inquiry unanswered.” Rather, “there must be a separate perceptible impairment of the organization's ability to provide services—something that makes it more difficult for the organization to conduct its activities”—an impairment, the court stated, for which the plaintiff has not plausibly alleged.

    Courts CFPB Payday Lending Payday Rule Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • 5th Circuit delays payday lending compliance until after resolution of appeal

    Courts

    On October 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed the implementation of the payment provisions of the CFPB’s 2017 final rule covering “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” (2017 Rule) for 286 days after the resolution of the appeal. The appellate court’s order contrasts with an order issued last month by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, which denied a request by the two trade group appellants to stay the compliance date pending appeal (covered by InfoBytes here). The district court previously upheld the 2017 Rule’s payment provisions (covered by InfoBytes here), finding that the Bureau’s ratification “was valid and cured the constitutional injury caused by the 2017 Rule’s approval by an improperly appointed official,” and that the payment provisions were not arbitrary and capricious. The district court’s order regarding the stay granted the plaintiffs’ request to stay the compliance date, which had been set as August 19, 2019, until 286 days after final judgment. The 5th Circuit’s order, however, grants the trade groups’ motion to extend the stay of the compliance date until 286 days after resolution of the appeal.

    Courts Appellate Fifth Circuit CFPB Payday Lending Payday Rule Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • CFPB issues semi-annual report to Congress

    Federal Issues

    On October 8, the CFPB issued its semi-annual report to Congress covering the Bureau’s work from October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021. The report, which is required by Dodd-Frank, addresses, among other things, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on consumer credit, significant rules and orders adopted by the Bureau, consumer complaints, and various supervisory and enforcement actions taken by the Bureau. In his opening letter, Director Dave Uejio discusses the Bureau’s efforts to increase racial equity in the marketplace and to mitigate the financial effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on consumers, including measures such as reinstituted regular public reporting, developing Prioritized Assessments to protect consumers from elevated risks of harm related to the pandemic, and numerous enforcement actions with claims or findings of various violations. Uejio also notes that communities of color, particularly Black and Hispanic communities, have disproportionately experienced the health and economic effects of the pandemic, and states that the Bureau is utilizing “all [of its] tools to ensure that all communities, of all races and economic backgrounds, can participate in and benefit from the nation’s economic recovery.”

    Among other topics, the report highlights two publications by the Bureau: one focusing on the TRID Integrated Disclosure Rule (covered by InfoBytes here), and another focusing on credit record trends for young enlisted servicemembers during the first year after separation (covered by InfoBytes here). The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on consumer credit are also discussed, as are the results from the Bureau’s Making Ends Meet Survey. In addition to these areas of focus, the report notes the issuance of several significant notices of proposed rulemaking related to remittance transfers, debt collection practices, the transition from LIBOR, and qualified mortgage definitions under TILA. Multiple final rules were also issued concerning Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z); remittance transfers; and payday, vehicle, title, and certain high-cost installment loans. Several other rules and initiatives undertaken during the reporting period are also highlighted.

    Federal Issues CFPB Covid-19 Consumer Finance Agency Rule-Making & Guidance TRID Servicemembers LIBOR TILA Payday Rule

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  • District Court denies delay on payday lending compliance

    Courts

    On September 30, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas denied a request made by two trade groups to stay the implementation of the payment provisions of the CFPB’s 2017 final rule covering “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” (2017 Rule) while they appeal an earlier decision allowing the provisions to take effect. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the court upheld the 2017 Rule’s payment provisions, finding that the Bureau’s ratification “was valid and cured the constitutional injury caused by the 2017 Rule’s approval by an improperly appointed official.” The court also concluded that the payment provisions, as a matter of law, “are consistent with the Bureau’s statutory authority and are not arbitrary and capricious,” and that the Bureau properly considered the costs and benefits of such payment provisions. The court’s order, however, granted the plaintiffs’ request to stay the compliance date, which had been set as August 19, 2019, until 286 days after final judgment.

    The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and asked the district court to stay the running of the 286-day stay pending appeal, such that compliance would not be required until 286 days after the appeal is resolved. The court rejected that request, stating that the plaintiffs “failed to make a sufficient showing to warrant a stay pending resolution of the appeal” and that “the equities do not support extending the stay of the compliance date beyond the court's 286-day stay from August 30, 2021.”

    Courts CFPB Payday Lending Payday Rule Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Appellate Fifth Circuit

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  • Court temporarily stays compliance with CFPB’s payday rule

    Courts

    On August 31, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas granted summary judgment in favor of the CFPB in an action filed by two trade groups challenging the payment provisions of the Bureau’s 2017 final rule covering “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” (2017 Rule), but stayed the August 19, 2019 compliance date for 286 days after final judgment as requested by the plaintiffs. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the plaintiffs challenged the 2017 Rule’s payment provisions’ compliance date and asked the court to set aside the 2017 Rule and the Bureau’s ratification of the payment provisions of the 2017 Rule as unconstitutional and in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.

    In granting summary judgment to the Bureau, the court ruled that the ratification “was valid and cured the constitutional injury caused by the 2017 Rule’s approval by an improperly appointed official.” Among other things, the court also concluded that the payment provisions, as a matter of law, “are consistent with the Bureau’s statutory authority and are not arbitrary and capricious,” and that the Bureau properly considered the costs and benefits of such payment provisions. However, in granting the plaintiffs’ request for a longer stay, the court stated it was persuaded by the plaintiffs’ arguments “that they should receive the full benefit of the temporary stay and that a more substantial compliance date allows time for appeal,” consistent with the fact that the “stay was requested with 445 days left until the implementation deadline, and it was entered with 286 days remaining.” 

    Courts Payday Lending Payday Rule CFPB Administrative Procedures Act Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • CFPB and lenders file briefs for 2017 payday lending case

    Courts

    On August 6, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas received briefs from the CFPB and the two trade groups (plaintiffs) challenging the CFPB’s 2017 final payday/auto title/high-rate installment loan rule (2017 Rule) regarding a compliance date for the 2017 Rule’s payment provisions. The briefs were filed in response to the court’s July 29 order requesting briefing “concerning what would be the appropriate compliance date if the court were to deny Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and grant Defendants’ motion for summary judgment.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, in August 2020, the plaintiffs asked the court to set aside the 2017 Rule and the Bureau’s ratification of the payment provisions of the 2017 Rule as unconstitutional and in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Earlier in July 2020, the Bureau issued a final rule revoking the 2017 Rule’s underwriting provisions and ratified the 2017 Rule’s payment provisions (covered by InfoBytes here) in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Seila Law LLC v CPFB (covered by a Buckley Special Alert, holding that the director’s for-cause removal provision was unconstitutional but was severable from the statute establishing the Bureau). 

    According to the CFPB’s brief, the stay of the compliance date should remain in place for no longer than 30 days after the Court’s decision on summary judgment. The CFPB argued, among other things, that a 30-day delay is consistent with the APA and should provide sufficient time to make any final preparations. In addition, the CFPB argued that complying with the payment provisions is not considered “onerous” because the provisions generally prohibit lenders from withdrawing payments for a covered loan from a borrower’s account after two consecutive attempts have failed due to lack of sufficient funds and because the provisions require lenders to give consumers certain notices, specifically before attempting to withdraw a payment for the first time and before making an “unusual” withdrawal attempt. In addition, the CFPB argued that “[f]urther extension of the stay is particularly unwarranted because the only basis for the stay disappeared over a year ago.”

    According to the plaintiffs’ brief, an “order lifting the stay…should set the compliance date no earlier than 445 days (or, at a minimum, 286 days) from the date the court lifts the stay, reflecting the time left for compliance when the stay was sought (or entered).” In addition to arguing that requiring immediate compliance would violate the APA, the plaintiffs argued, among other things, that “the 2017 Rule gave lenders twenty-one months before compliance would be required, which the Bureau viewed as necessary to give lenders ‘enough time for an orderly implementation period’ and to ‘reasonably adjust their practices to come into compliance.’” Moreover, the plaintiffs argued that the Bureau will need to set a new compliance date via notice-and-comment rulemaking if the stay did not toll the compliance period.

    Responses from both parties are due by August 16.

    Courts CFPB Payday Rule Payday Lending Administrative Procedures Act

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