More than two dozen Democratic senators are calling on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to strengthen its payday lending proposal, arguing that it has loopholes that can be exploited by abusive lenders.
In a letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray, the group of 28 senators said they supported the plan, which would push lenders toward ensuring customers have the ability to repay before making a loan, but wanted to ensure it went far enough.
"We are concerned the proposed rule allows for some exemptions from the ability to repay analysis outlined in the proposal," said the letter, from Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Chris Coons, D-Del.
The letter cited a six-loan threshold before lenders must make an ability-to-repay determination, and other exceptions on the requirement that they said should be dialed back. They also opposed the proposed shortening of the cooling-off period the rule required lenders to enforce between loans, from 60 days in the initial outline released last year to 30 days in the proposal released in 2016.
"We urge the CFPB to ensure that a cooling off period is long enough that borrowers can manage their expenses and are not reborrowing to service prior short-term loans," the lawmakers said.
Notably, the letter was also signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., the architect of the agency. The lawmakers emphasized that they supported the plan overall.
"CFPB is taking a critical step toward ensuring that payday lenders originate affordable loans," the letter said. "We are encouraged to see the CFPB's proposed rule tackle the unaffordability of these loans by requiring lenders to evaluate a consumer's ability to repay."
The lawmakers added that they supported the law's application to vehicle title loans, deposit advance products and other types of installment loans and open-end lines of credit.