In her second appearance at a House of Representatives hearing involving the upcoming start of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA), White House Consumer Agency Special Advisor Elizabeth Warren faced the continued GOP assault against the agency and her involvement in its creation.
The CFPA was created by Congress in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Law.
The focus of the hearing, held in theHouse Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs, was to determine the accountability and oversight for the agency.
In her prepared statement for the committee, Warren remarked, “There have been many overblown claims about the nature of the CFPB’s power. Critics have claimed that the CFPB is ‘the most powerful regulatory agency that’s ever been put together,’ that it is ‘the most powerful agency ever created, and that it ‘doesn’t have to explain what it does to anybody.’” Warren then denied the veracity of such claims, stating, “These claims disregard the limits on the consumer bureau’s authorities and the very meaningful oversight that Congress imposed over its functioning — oversight that is consistent with that which exists over other independent agencies.”
“The CFPB’s activities are subject to judicial review, ensuring that the CFPB operates within the constraints set by Congress and the U.S. Constitution,” she added.
However, things got ugly when GOP Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina accused Ms. Warren of lying during her March testimony. Warren had previously appeared before the House Financial Services Committee to answer questions concerning the agency and its function and power structure.
According to CNN Money, McHenry stated that she had severely understated her role in providing information to a group of state attorneys general who in March held talks with the banking industry on allegedly illegal business practices, a charge Warren flatly denied.
Warren responded, “This is our job, and we’re trying to do our job, to be helpful to other agencies…and to help those agencies to hold those who break the law accountable for these deeds.”
McHenry continued to attack her personally claiming she was lying when her schedule time was up and she stated she could not extend it due to a previously scheduled engagement.
In response to McHenry’s continued baseless accusations, Democrats on the committee apologized to Warren, with Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY) remarking that for the GOP, “This hearing is all about impugning you, because people are afraid of you and your ability to communicate in very clear terms the threats to our consumers.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which Republicans have continually threatened to dismantle by whatever means possible, is scheduled to become active on July 21, 2011. Its purpose is to provide consumers with financial clarity and information as well as by regulating financial products such as credit cards, mortgages and other loans in order to protect consumers from unfair and illegal business practices.