Waters warns Mulvaney he may be called to testify on CFPB tenure

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WASHINGTON — House Democrats are warning Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney that he may be called to testify in the next Congress on the actions he took as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the expected incoming chair of the House Financial Services Committee, told Mulvaney — who also serves as acting White House chief of staff — in a letter Thursday that she plans to hold him accountable for decisions that were “incredibly harmful to consumers that Congress has yet to scrutinize.”

“I am writing to inform you that while your time running the Consumer Bureau may be over, the time for accountability for your actions is about to begin. … Please be advised that, as part of this important oversight work, you may be called before the Committee to testify regarding your tenure at the agency,” Waters said.

In the letter, Waters criticized Mulvaney for “politicizing the agency” by hiring political appointees, weakening fair-lending enforcement by stripping the Office of Fair Lending of its supervisory and enforcement powers, attempting to rename the agency to be the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to “diminish its stature,” and blocking payday loan cases, among other things.

“These are a sample of the many troubling actions that we are currently aware of regarding the Consumer Bureau's activities during your tenure,” Waters said. “Laws are meaningless when they are not enforced, and consumers are left to fend for themselves when their government will not protect them.”

Mulvaney served as acting director of the CFPB for a year, after former director Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee, resigned in November 2017.

Waters said the current Republican majority in the House did not hold Mulvaney accountable for decisions he made while leading the CFPB, only holding one hearing during his 12-month tenure.

“That hearing on April 11, 2018, was the only oversight hearing held by the Committee during your more than 12 month tenure of running the Consumer Bureau, despite the law requiring, at a minimum, your testimony before the Committee semi-annually,” Waters said. “The weak congressional oversight under the direction of the outgoing Republican Majority pales in comparison to their oversight of former Director Richard Cordray's tenure, when he and other senior officials testified before Congress more than 60 times.”

The letter comes just over a week after Kathy Kraninger was sworn in as the permanent director of the CFPB.

Kraninger, who was nominated by President Trump, most recently worked for Mulvaney at OMB.

In her first move as director, Kraninger Wednesday announced in a memo to employees that she was halting efforts to change the name of the CFPB. An internal memo had said that the cost to the financial services industry could be roughly $300 million if the name change went forward.

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