Legislation to create an independent inspector general at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is circulating again.
The bipartisan Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection-Inspector General Act of 2015 is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn.
The CFPB is not subject to the appropriations process, receiving funds for their budget from the Federal Reserve, and does not have an independent, Senate-confirmed inspector general, according to a news release from Stivers office. All told, Stivers argues the agency has little congressional oversight.
The CFPB instead shares an inspector general with the Federal Reserve, an unconfirmed position appointed by the Fed chairman. The legislation would amend the Inspector General Act of 1978 to establish an independent inspector general for the CFPB. The position would be appointed by the president and then confirmed with the advice and consent of the Senate.
"The CFPB is an important agency that works to ensure that you, the consumer, are protected from things like predatory payday lenders, shoddy mortgage bankers and defective products, Walz said. "Their work is important, but that doesnt mean that they dont need oversight. I fully support their cause, to stand up for you, and believe the appointment of an independent inspector general will only increase their ability to fulfill their important mission."
More than 30 federal departments or agencies currently have an independent inspector general.
In February 2014, legislation was introduced to increase oversight and accountability of the CFPB, including changing the leadership of the bureau from a sole director, Richard Cordray, to a bipartisan commission of five individuals, much like the FTC's makeup. That bill gained approval from the House of Representatives, with a House Republicans in favor and just 10 Democrats voting along with the Republicans. But in the Senate, majority leaders said from the start that the bill would not be considered. President Obama also had indicated he would veto any such legislation.
The bill sought to fund the agency through Congressional appropriations rather than through the Federal Reserve. It would have provided the CFPB with a budget of $300 million annually for the next two years, about 60% of the budget that was set for Fiscal Year 2014.