WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday repealed controversial 2013 guidance by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that allowed it to go after indirect auto lenders. The vote was a big win for Republicans trying to rein in the agency.
The House passed the repeal 234-175, using the Congressional Review Act, a process that gives Congress 60 legislative days to overturn a rule with a simple majority vote. The guidance was recently deemed a rule by the General Accountability Office, which gave Republicans the opportunity to repeal what they have long called an overreach by the agency.
Specifically, critics say the CFPB’s guidance was a roundabout way of going after auto dealers when the Dodd-Frank Act restricts the agency from doing so. The guidance essentially said indirect auto lenders would be cited for unintentional discrimination for loans that were "marked up" at partnering dealerships.
“This was absolutely trampling upon the sacred ground of Dodd-Frank,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling said on the chamber floor before the vote. “Dodd-Frank says, ‘Bureau, thou shalt not regulate auto dealers,’ but they attempted to do it. So, that was sin No. 1.”
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., kick-started the effort to use the review act to kill the guidance, a move he started discussing more than a year ago. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., passed the Senate last month on a 51-47 vote. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., led the same effort in the House. The repeal now awaits President Trump’s signature.
Members of the Consumer Bankers Association "are committed to ensuring strong fair lending policies and practices are in place at their banks,” the group's president and CEO, Richard Hunt, said in a news release. “However, the bureau’s 2013 Auto Bulletin was a backdoor attempt at rulemaking and failed to provide banks with a clear blueprint to ensure compliance.”
Consumer groups immediately criticized the repeal as a way of encouraging auto lenders to discriminate against minority consumers.
“They may try to dress it up with political spin, but today Congress endorsed discrimination. The CFPB made it clear to the auto industry that it was a violation of the law to charge people of color with the same credit as whites higher interest rates on their loans. The House disagrees,” Karl Frisch, executive director of consumer group Allied Progress, said in a news release. “Simply put, this is a big win for bigots.”