Congressional Democrats Grill Kraninger
House and Senate Democrats grilled the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger during her semi-annual report to Congress on Wednesday and Thursday.
The congressional hearings were expected to be contentious, and they certainly lived up to that standard. In one exchange, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) asked Kraninger, “If the consumer bureau can’t get relief for consumers who have been harmed — and you admit they’ve been harmed — then what are you doing?” Maloney then added, “If you’re not following direction from your staff to help consumers that are harmed, then you are absolutely worthless.”
Much of the hearings centered on the constitutionality of the CFPB. Director Kraninger recently took the position that the CFPB Director’s “for cause” removal provision of Dodd-Frank was unconstitutional. Many Republican agree with this position. Democrats on the other hand strongly disagree, stating that the removal provision is important for maintaining the CFPB’s independence from the White House and Congress.
Democrats also grilled Kraninger on the seemingly lack of consumer restitution during her tenure as the head of the CFPB, despite the fact that the CFPB, under Kraninger’s leadership, has brought more enforcement actions against companies in her first six months than the CFPB did during the first six months of her two predecessors, Richard Cordray and Mick Mulvaney.
Among all the commotion, tribal issues were brought up during an exchange between Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Kraninger.
Congressman Lucas: “I’d like to ask about the Bureau’s Tribal Consultation process. This policy provides general guidance on how the CFPB should consult with Tribal governments during the rulemaking process … Could you elaborate on how the Bureau is working to adhere and to improve the Tribal Consultation process?”
Director Kraninger: “I have had the opportunity to meet with Tribal leaders in this position, and I shared with them that I have a history in many of my other positions in government of working with Tribal entities to understand the unique issues that they are facing … We do have a Tribal official designated; we do have regular interactions with the Tribes and make sure that, again, they have the opportunity to raise the concerns or questions or issues that they are seeing in the marketplace that affect them, and we very much appreciate that engagement and take that into account both in the formal process as well as informally seeking their views.”
Kranigner’s reference to her opportunity in meeting with Tribal leaders was likely a reference to her September 5 meeting with NAFSA Member Tribes, which covered a variety of topics such as the history of Tribal sovereignty and the importance of Tribal consultation.
Kraninger will not have to face Congress again until next year. At that time, the Supreme Court will have decided whether to hear legal cases pertaining to the CFPB’s constitutionality, which will surely spark more tense exchanges.